PJ Parkinson’s supports over 300 area patients

Tom KingFarragut, Our Town Health

Isabell Senft-Daniel says Parkinson’s is “the fastest growing neurological disease in the world” and that “there’s still no cure for it.” She is the executive director of the support group PJ Parkinson’s, which supports more than 300 people and their families in Knox and five surrounding counties.

Yesterday, Senft-Daniel spoke to the Rotary Club of Farragut, and her passion for those who have this disease came across loudly and clearly. “Parkinson’s people are really funny and we call this the ‘snowflake disease’ because every case and person who has it is different.”

Isabell Senft-Daniel

Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms usually start gradually, sometimes with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Other symptoms she noted are muscle and joint stiffness, loss of smell, sleeping and speech problems, drooling and basic mobility issues.

She added that the causes of Parkinson’s are genetic and linked to chemicals, primarily pesticides.

The group’s first meeting in 2014 attracted approximately 40 people. “We were expecting maybe four or five people and when 40 showed up we knew there was a need,” she said. Today, she manages seven support groups that meet monthly. “We’re effective because we are doing grassroots work.” For seven years she was the volunteer leader of the group and became its executive director two years ago.

More than 1 million Americans suffer with Parkinson’s and many others who are yet to be diagnosed. Parkinson’s patients often live long lives, like Farragut Rotarian Phill Bradbury. He is cared for at their home by wife Judith and the few caregivers they can find to help support them.

“Parkinson’s will not be the cause of death for those with this disease,” she explained. “They will die because of conditions that happen because of Parkinson’s – like pneumonia, other infections, injuries from bad falls and even blood clots. This is also a very difficult disease for doctors to diagnose.”

In addition to Knox, their support groups work with families in Blount, Loudon, Anderson, Jefferson and Sevier counties. There is an independent support group in Johnson City that they are assisting.

A familiar name to most is Matt Hinkin, who recently retired after 31 years with WATE-TV as the station’s main meteorologist. Hinkin has Parkinson’s and is now the official spokesman for PJ Parkinson’s.

For more information about Parkinson’s or to offer support, call 865-621-7666 or you can email them at info@pjparkinsons.org or go here.

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, call 865-659-3562. Farragut Rotary meets each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at Fox Den Country Club. Tom King, a past president of Farragut Rotary, has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *