From the Editor and Chair:
The important news this autumn is that the Branch has received a substantial legacy from the will of the late Mrs Norma Hone. Norma was a popular and much-loved member of the Branch. She and her husband Raymond attended most of our social functions including many of our short holidays. They were almost an institution and were great friends to many of our members.
Norma specified that she wanted some of the money to be used on social functions. More details of the legacy will be forthcoming in the next newsletter when the National Office of Parkinson's UK (who are imposing restrictions on what we can spend it on) have agreed a spending plan with us.
Accompanying this newsletter is the form for the Christmas lunch. Please return the form to me with your choices as soon as possible. If you cancel at a later date please inform Margaret Clavin, as I shall be on holiday at the beginning of December.
Anya, the therapist, coaching the singers
This new initiative is proving to be very popular. So far two singing therapy sessions have taken place at the Oliver Bird Hall, United reformed Church. They take place every second Monday until the New Year when we hope to hold them every week. They have proved to be great fun with the numbers attending increasing with each session. They are conducted by Anya, a charismatic lady whose enthusiasm is highly infectious.
Talk on How to Fund care
A very interesting and informative talk was given on October 19th by Debbie Anderson, a solicitor working with Moore and Tibbets. She discussed how to pay for care and how to access the benefits you are entitled to. She outlined the legal position on lasting power of attorney and advised on the desirability of getting it as soon as possible. She also talked about inheritance tax and how to minimise it if you have up to £650000 in assets. The take-away message if you are lucky enough to have more than that seemed to be to 'spend it and enjoy it' as the inland revenue have thought of everything. It is a pity so few members attended the talk as it is relevant to so many of us.
Walk in Brueton Park
Photo by Ian Mills
Lionel, together with Ian and Carol, the tree wardens, organised a lovely walk in Brueton Park on Sunday 22nd October. We collected seeds from various trees including the Indian Bean tree and a beautiful unusual Rowan tree with white berries. Carol instructed us in how to grow them. The main problem will be the patience required until they germinate.
Maxwell Finn, the 8-year-old grandson of Gordon and Diane Burton raised the fantastic sum of £155 for Solihull Branch doing the Mini Mile Run in London. Thank you Maxwell for your tremendous achievement to help your grandad and others with Parkinson's.
Maxwell on his Run
The Davis Brothers
Ben, Tom and James, the sons of Pat and Nerys Davis successfully ran the Birmingham marathon on October 15th. Between them they collected £3400, twice the target they set themselves, for Solihull Parkinson's UK.
Tom, Ben and James
The Davis family celebrating with bubbly
1. Deep brain stimulation without surgery
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is the main type of surgery used to treat the physical symptoms of Parkinson's. It involves implanting very fine wires, with electrodes at their tips, into the brain. It can work well to control tremor and dyskinesia in Parkinson's, but it won't stop the condition from progressing and it isn't a cure. Although many people benefit from deep brain stimulation, it isn't a suitable treatment for everyone with the condition.
Using mice, scientists at MIT in the USA and Imperial College London, has developed a new method that involves placing electrodes on the surface of the scalp, rather than inside the brain. The development of less invasive techniques like this one could mean that more people with Parkinson's could benefit from this type of therapy. The method is called Temporal Interference (TI) stimulation.
The team has used this technique in mice and shown that they can very precisely activate brain cells in the hippocampus - a region deep in the brain that is central to memory and cognition, but it still has to be tested in humans.
2. Cell transplantation studies
The symptoms of Parkinson's are caused by the gradual loss of dopamine-producing brain cells in a region of the brain. Current medication only serves to treat the condition, but makes no changes to the brain cells themselves so does not slow the progression of the disease.
However replacing the defective cells by transplantation of healthy cells could help to reverse some of the symptoms of the condition.
Two studies have been published that make significant strides towards cell transplant therapies for Parkinson's.
a) In the first study, a Japanese team of scientists showed that dopamine-producing cells could be successfully transplanted into the brain of a primate model of Parkinson's. Over the following 12 months, these cells gradually improved the movement symptoms of Parkinson's.
The new dopamine-producing brain cells were made from skin cells and blood cells of people with Parkinson's and from those without the condition. The results showed that these new brain cells could integrate into the primate brain and function like normal dopamine-producing brain cells.
b) One of the key hurdles to transplant therapies is rejection of the cells by the immune system. In a second study, the research team was able to use the principles of tissue matching used in organ donation to match dopamine-producing brain cells to the primate immune system to avoid rejection.
Following this success, it was proposed that a bank of stem cells for human transplantation could be created from just 150 donors, which would supply stem cells that could be matched to 93% of the UK population.
It is not known however, if the new transplanted cells would suffer the same fate as the original brain cells that had died.
This is a teaching and learning approach to Parkinson's disease that aims to improve quality of life. Skills and practical techniques are learned for overcoming the daily problems posed by this condition. It takes place at The National Institute of Conductive Education in Moseley and is not under the National Health Service.
If anyone is interested in starting Conductive Education please contact Barbara Xifaras who is normally at the exercise class on Tuesday mornings or send an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you already attend Conductive Education and would like to claim the cost of some of your sessions, please save the receipts you get from NICE and give them to me.
Two exercise classes take place on a Tuesday morning with a 30 minute coffee break between them. Please contact Barbara Xifaras (Tel: 01564 773977 mornings only) for more information.
Chair-based yoga classes are held on Friday mornings at 11.30am - 12.30pm in the Library in Solihull. The classes cost £2.50. Non-members are welcome to attend.
Tai Chi classes - New Initiative
Tai Chi sessions are held every Thursday at 11.45 am at the Solihull Women's Institute on the Warwick Road (opposite the House of Fraser). The cost is £2.00 per session. Non-members are welcome but the charge for them is £3.00 per session. Tai Chi has been recommended by GPs in the area and by the Parkinson's nurses, as a beneficial activity for people with Parkinson's. Jan Wilson, the instructor, teaches a type of Tai Chi which has been designed for people with movement disorders such as Parkinson's and arthritis.
Speech Therapy classes - new initiative
This year we have started a speech therapy course which is from 10.00am to 12 noon on the second Wednesday of each month in 2016. The course which is limited to 8 members is organised by Integrated Treatment Services. It is already full and we have a short waiting list. If you are interested let me know and I will put you on the waiting list. Whether we can run more sessions will depend on the interest and our finances.
Help for Carers
Remember that we can pay for members with Parkinson's to spend a day, once a fortnight, at Blanning Day Centre in Bentley Heath. However, as this facility is meant for the benefit of carers to give them a rest from their caring duties, we insist that both the carer and the person attending the care centre are members of Parkinson's UK.
We also help to pay for a sitter service by paying 50% of the cost of up to two three-hour sessions per month, providing the actual cost does not exceed £17.50 per hour. If you let us have your receipts we shall reimburse you. We recommend AgeUK as a reputable sitter agency.
The Branch currently pays taxi fares (one way) to the exercise class for those members who are disabled and have no other suitable means of transport. We intend to extend this to also cover Thursday evening meetings and the Christmas lunch. However, receipts must be provided.
Is your membership up to date?
Is your membership up to date? Please look at your membership card. You are not entitled to the benefits of membership if you are not an up to date member. If your membership needs renewing, write or ring the National Office: Parkinson's UK, 215, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1VEJ. It costs only £4 per year. (Tel: 020 7931 8080). Please check your card now.