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Women Bring Hope To Parkinson's Patients

After Developing Parkinson's, Two Women Help Others Go Through Surgery

Note from PDF: The two individuals highlighted in this article, Valerie Graham and Kate Kelsall, are participants in PDF's 2009 Clinical Research Learning Institute.


DENVER - Parkinson's disease can turn lives upside down. While there is no cure, there is hope.

It comes in the form of two brave women who are this week's 7Everyday Heroes.

Valerie Graham and Kate Kelsall both developed Parkinson's disease at a young age. Graham was just 38 years old and Kelsall was only 46 years of age.

For Graham the tremors and balance issues of Parkinson's ended her career as a lawyer. Kelsall was forced to quit her job at University Hospital.

But then came something called DBS, deep brain stimulation. "What this involves is an electrode placed far into the patient's brain," said Steven G. Ojemann, M.D. Ojemann works at the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center, one of the few centers in the country to offer deep brain stimulation. DBS is a surgery that treats movement disorders like Parkinsons.

Graham and Kelsall had the procedure. While there is no cure for Parkinsons, both women are doing things they never though possible, thanks to DBS.

"I have been able to go bowling, roller skating, horse, bike, riding," said Graham.

"I belong to the Rockettes, a dance group. We do Broadway dancing and perform in different communities," said Kelsall.

Today, Graham and Kelsall help other Parkinson's patients who are candidates for D.B.S.

They volunteer to host a support group, and provide hope for future patients.

"When I was having my surgery I honestly thought I was the only one in the world having it. I had no other contacts, I was afraid," said Kelsall.

For three years, Graham and Kelsall have guided others through the surgery.

They have even comforted patient's families while their loved ones are going through the procedure.

"It is hard to overstate how helpful Kate and Valerie are for our patients," said Ojemann.

Kelsall has a blog for people facing Parkinson's Disease. Click here to learn more.

Source Date: Sep 28 2009
Source Publication: ABC7 News Denver
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