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Kann's passion drives P.A.R.K. program 25 years PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:11 AM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — It’s been a quarter century since Physical Therapist Bob Kann was inspired to begin treating Parkinson’s patients in the lobbies of Lima Memorial Health Systems. What began as a clinic teaching four patients excercise and functionality in 1988 was catapulted into the national spotlight in 1994 and has since become one of the two best Parkinson’s programs in the nation.

“I never dreamed I would be talking about a 25th anniversary,” Kann mused. “I want to work in this successful program as long as I can.”

Even though Kann has retired from Vancrest as a physical therapist, he now devotes 100 percent of his time to the development of Parkinson’s Activity and Rehabilitation Klinic (P.A.R.K.) programs. In January, he opened a ‘klinic’ in the Urbana Vancrest Health Care facility, where he works with 20-25 patients and caregivers for hour-long sessions on Thursdays.

“We strive for perfection and along the way reach excellence from the participants,” Kann emphasized. “That’s our goal.”

Kann detailed the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which includes rigidity, hand tremors, stooped posture, taking small steps, shuffling feet and falling. A person exhibiting one or two of these symptoms does not mean they have Parkinson’s; however, people showing several of these signs can be an indication of the disease. He recommends seeing a physician as soon as possible for treatments.

Denial means waiting on treatment—the medications and therapies they need to stabilize the situation—and caregivers need to be realistic and realize the sooner treatment begins, the longer their loved one will have a better quality of life.

There are one million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease and close to 60,000 are diagnosed with the disease each year. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age but an estimated four percent of people with the disease are diagnosed before the age of 50. In addition, men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.

“What we take for granted, Parkinson’s patients lose the ability to do,” Kann said.

The main goal is to teach both the caregiver and the patient functionality. The success of the program is determined by what is carried over at home by the patients and caregivers and not just by what they do in the one hour sessions once a week. It’s a team effort in safety where the caregiver is taught to reinforce the patients’ functional activities in the home environment.

Kann said people may not realize the six steps necessary just to sit in a chair. First, the patient must line themselves up with the chair, make sure the back of their legs are touching the chair, reach for and place their hands on the armrests, bend at the knees and hips and put their weight over their knees and sit down slowly.

“There is no ‘plopping’,” Kann emphasized. “It must be controlled. Fold up like an accordion.”

The journey has taught Kann a great deal about humility.

“I learn as much from them, the patients and caregivers, as they learn from me,” Kann reflected on a pivotal moment.

A patient — we’ll call him Ed — that exhibited “the shakes” asked Kann to go golfing with him. Kann thought to himself “How on earth can you golf like that?” While approaching the first tee, Kann noticed that as soon as Ed touched the club, his shaking stopped and he hit the ball really well. The same scenario occurred when Ed putted the ball. It shows that people can be very functional with Parkinson’s.

During the outing, Kann noticed Ed never taking a practice swing prior to hitting the ball and questioned him about it. Ed responded with “I don’t because I want to save my strength.”

“He beat me by six strokes,” Kann said in disbelief. “That was a very eye-opening experience.”

In order to get into the program, a patient must have a referral from a doctor and be assessed by a physical therapist for these criteria: maintain independence at home and the ability to follow direction in a group setting.

“The clinic is free,” Kann spoke with empathy. ”I do not want to deny anybody the opportunity to join the program.”

The program is designed to give the patients with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers the tools to use on a regular basis in the home environment to gain maximum function and better quality of life.

Family members are encouraged to support their loved ones by attending the one-hour sessions.

For more information, contact Delphos Vancrest Health Care Center at 419-695-2871.


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