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Therapist starts new Parkinsons program at Vancrest

A retired physical therapist is working with Vancrest of Urbana to create a new, free program designed to help local patients with Parkinson’s disease remain independent.

Beginning this month, Bob Kann will offer his once-a-week P.A.R.K. program at the Urbana health care facility, teaching area patients basic skills such as how to get in and out of a car, how to walk or climb stairs, and how to get in and out of bed. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects movement. It typically causes stiffness and slower movement, and progressively worsens over time.

Kann’s program initially began at Lima Memorial Hospital and followed him when he went to work at Vancrest’s facility in Delphos, Ohio. The P.A.R.K. program, which stands for Parkinsons Activity and Rehabilitation Klinic, is designed to teach exercises that help give patients the skills they need to remain independent, he said.

“What sets us apart from other programs, it’s not just an exercise program,” Kann said. “This takes it a step further.”

The first class is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 24, said Jennifer Brock, an administrator at Vancrest who worked with Kann to bring the program to Urbana. To enroll, patients must be referred from a physician and evaluated by a physical therapist. Once enrolled, however, the program is free. Classes are once a week and last about an hour.

“We’re just hoping to offer a service that’s different from anything else that’s offered around here,” Brock said.

The program also encourages spouses of patients to attend, Kann said. Because the program is only once a week, a spouse can work with the patient at home to reinforce the lesson on a daily basis. Often, Kann said he videotapes the sessions, which can help show patients how they look when they perform exercises. For example, many patients may not realize they’re shuffling their feet when they walk, so the video and encouragement from other group members can help.

“There’s no magic to this program, but it’s a program that stresses function and exercise,” Kann said.

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