remembering nedda

Summers continue to inch its way toward cooler days - although with desert temperatures in the 110+ range, the heat seems endless. We admire the tenacity and determination it takes for so many of our patients to get here to the center daily. Many have to wait for the 40-minute window that the SunDial door-to-door handicapped bus service that brings them and picks them up. Once on board, the buses are nice and cool but even so – each patient gets my vote for courage and strength. And talking about that, we lost a long time member of our family this last week, Nedda Ocean. Nedda had been with us for 15 years most recently just showing us sporadically to play BINGO but prior to that, here on a daily basis. Nedda suffered from hemiparalysis and aphasia having had a stroke over 30 years ago. She lived at home with her husband John who brought her to the Center and picked her up every day. Following John’s death, she moved to be aided by her kids but, we did see her from time to time and were always greeted with the same giggles and smiles that Nedda was famous for. She was able to help herself to her morning breakfast and coffee, attend the classes she wished and spend time with friends daily here playing cards, BINGO and doing crafts. Nedda always smiled and laughed even while occasionally expressing her frustration with the one four letter word she could pronounce. Her singing repertoire was limited but I always looked forward to hearing her sing "Happy Birthday" to me at this time of the year. She was an inspiration to those around her and living proof of the value of a positive attitude.  Thanks to her family for sharing Nedda with us. We will miss her.


The end of June and the beginning of July mark the end of our fiscal year and the start of a new year here at the Center. The summer months in the desert are very hot. Many people who have the means and are not responsible for those who don’t, leave for cooler climes not to return until the cool days of the late fall – October or November. Being among those who gladly hold ourselves responsible for others who do stay here, we are open all summer and keep a full complement of classes and programs. Like every place here in the desert, things are not as crowded, driving is easier and there are fewer folks waiting in line at Sherman’s. (for those of you who are not locals, Sherman’s is a very popular deli here in Palm Springs) .What does that mean to us? Remember that we rely on volunteers to staff our shop, to run our programs, help with food service and to with exercise therapy. That very lack of crowded spaces means we have fewer volunteers to help us. Let’s discuss volunteering for a moment. Are you one that believes we have a moral duty to help others? That if we can, we must give to whatever level we are able? Volunteerism is giving of your time to help others without receiving monetary reward for those efforts. We can justify this from a moral standpoint or, if that does not appeal, you can justify it from a purely selfish point of view. Studies have shown volunteers live longer, are happier and receive more in terms of satisfaction than they give. So regardless of whether you seek moral sainthood or just want to enjoy your life more – volunteer sometime in the service of others and reap the benefits. We have yet to see studies that indicate donating money has the same benefit but perhaps we should start a study to see if that would hold true. We have however seen a great deal of satisfaction among those who have worked hard with us to bring in money to help our patients. There are many ways to give. You needn’t limit yourselves to one way only….we all have something we are able to contribute. Find your niche and enjoy. It may be hot outside, but it is cool in here and we continue to need your help.

singing out parkinson's...and more...

Summertime in Palm Springs tends to be a challenge as the temperatures are often above the 100 degree mark and the pavement seems hot enough to actually fry that egg people talk about.  All the things that are difficult in the winter – getting dressed, getting in vehicles, transferring from car to wheelchair to name a few – are made harder in the extreme heat. But, while that slows us down a bit here at the center, it surely doesn’t stop us. We crank the air down a few degrees and keep working on getting better. Classes are a bit smaller, the gym isn’t quite so crowded, lunch is served faster - all things that make your summer better. And this summer, we are introducing something new to us. We are committed to stimulation of the brain offering therapeutics that stimulate memory, concentration, speech recovery, logic and expression. While much of this is critical to the recovery of deficits that have occurred with Stoke or TBI, working with other neurological disorders has opened our eyes to problems that may occur with both Parkinson’s sufferers and MS sufferers. While both may find some cognitive challenges, Parkinson’ patients may find expression and vocalization more difficult as the disease progresses. With all of this occurring, we have formed a partnership with the SongShine Foundation and will be hosting their therapists here at the Center to provide music therapy to those who may thrive in this milieu. Music therapy is well documented to help with memory stimulation. With Parkinson’s, music therapy can help with projection and vocalization strength. For Stroke/TBI patients, singing may even assist apraxia patients giving them the “feel” for verbal expression to say nothing of the enjoyment and relaxation expressed by all participants. We hope to start the program in August – if you are interested, please give Colleen Todd a call @ 760-323-7676 ext. 109 and she can tell you more. We are committed to offering a wide array of choices here at the center to find just the right combination of therapies to assist in recovery. Not all people will respond the same, not will all people enjoy the same therapies. Also, the most difficult thing is that improvement takes a very long time and the frustration and boredom factor can come into play, to say nothing of the apathy factor that is symptomatic of Parkinson’s. Count on us to try new and different things to keep you engaged and thriving. 

the challenge of funding stroke treatment

May is Stroke Awareness month – of course, all of us here celebrate every month working hard to make those around us aware of the people who have suffered strokes and the life changing event it is. Now that we have opened our doors to those with Parkinson’s disease and MS along with a multitude of other less well-known but equally problematic neurological issues, we cannot help but want to raise awareness of all problems that affect the brain and nervous system in the adult population. There is an interesting group of studies cited in this month’s Lancet that discuss the relationship between poverty and non-communicable diseases including heart disease and stroke.  The premise of the study is that in developing nations particularly, emphasis is funding and public health has always been on children and maternal-fetal health problems. The study believes they have shown currently, developing nations are at the point where investment in health should focus on what they term NCD – non-communicable diseases. The studies suggest that investment in the control of NCDs would result in increased economic growth. Early death and disability worldwide are noted as becoming alarming because these diseases were previously only seen in higher income countries. We often ponder why it is so difficult to raise money to provide help for the disabled and the chronically ill. There are exceptions of course – cancer research and AIDS treatment and research are but two that have been very successful in bringing in high levels of support throughout the community. The success of moving the needle from mortality to morbidity is in part due to the large and generous support that has flowed to each of those diseases. Perhaps a shift to an economic argument will loosen the purse strings to help combat neurological diseases. We can only hope something will………..

never give up...never give in...

We have said many times that every stroke is different, that every recovery is different, that improvement takes time and repetition and we are finding the same holds true with chronic disorders that we see.  That said, it is so rewarding when things work the way they are supposed to and the way we hope they will. We often say we see miracles every day. We hear someone express a coherent and complete sentence, we see someone riding a bike after a number of years in a wheelchair, we see strides where before there were shuffles and we celebrate each of those for the triumphs they are. The programs we provide are all evidence based and designed to be therapeutic. This week one of our Parkinson’s patients who is in our boxing program reported his doctor is so impressed with his improvement, she is lowering his meds and wants to meet with us to refer more patients. This is how it is supposed to work – what we talk about and what we tell others will happen – and it does. Another story from this week – this time not at the Center but rather at a presentation we made at one of the local condominium development HOA parties. One of the Board members approached me with her story from just two weeks prior. She and her husband were getting ready for breakfast and she noticed some overall weakness, her speech started to garble and her husband, thinking FAST got her in the car and off to the local ER. Our Local hospitals are all Comprehensive Stroke Centers who understand and treat Stroke quickly and appropriately. She was identified as a stroke patient, sent immediately for thrombectomy, the clot removed and she is demonstrating no deficits, home and back to normal life. The quick action, the access to the best treatment and otherwise good health of this women have made her a textbook case of what is supposed to happen – so gratifying to experience. From early warning to continued treatment, never giving up and never giving in – we can’t emphasize enough the importance of the Center, your participation and your thriving for a better day tomorrow. It can happen – it does happen.   


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