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Fox Chapel

Parkinson's program at HealthSouth Harmarville is backed by Fox Chapel Area grads

Tawnya Panizzi
| Monday, June 4, 2018, 2:48 p.m.
Physical therapist Laura Teschke is the coordinator of HealthSouth Harmarville's Parkinson’s Wellness Program, which encompasses a new class called “Delay the Disease.”
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Physical therapist Laura Teschke is the coordinator of HealthSouth Harmarville's Parkinson’s Wellness Program, which encompasses a new class called “Delay the Disease.”
Caitlin Lasky, director of marketing and public relations for the Parkinson Foundation.
submitted
Caitlin Lasky, director of marketing and public relations for the Parkinson Foundation.

Two Fox Chapel Area alumni are bolstering a new HealthSouth Harmarville program to help Parkinson's patients maintain independence.

Physical therapist Laura Teschke is a 2003 district graduate who lives in O'Hara. She is the coordinator of the rehab's community exercise program for people with Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease that effects movement.

Teschke works with fellow FCA grad Caitlin Lasky, also a 2003 alum and the director of marketing for the Parkinson's Foundation of Western PA.

“It's interesting that two people from this area are so involved,” said Teschke, who oversees hour-long, full-body exercise classes to promote patient mobility.

“To have a fellow classmate working on the other side is nice.”

The program PWR! Moves is offered at the Guys Run Road site as a way to slow the progression of Parkinson's through vigorous, task-specific exercises.

Classes are hosted twice a week in eight-week sessions, led by Teschke and other certified instructors.

The exercises are targeted to help participants move more easily, improve handwriting and boost self-esteem.

Programs are offered continuously throughout the year in conjunction with a free monthly support group.

Lasky became involved with the foundation about four years ago, the same time as her uncle was diagnosed with the disease.

Parkinson's impacts 1 million people across the country, more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease, she said. Western Pennsylvania, in particular, has one of the highest rates of Parkinson's per capita due to population, genetic and environmental factors, according to Lasky.

But she said exercise programs have significantly slowed the effects of Parkinson's in her uncle. Trained in Massachusetts, Teschke said she is eager to bring the program to the Pittsburgh area. Participants can conduct the motions from a seated position or standing, or if they prefer, laying down. From any point, the aim is increased agility.

Teschke said the exercises provide an indirect support group. “We have people coming in, smiling. They enjoy working with other people dealing with same issues as they have,” she said. “I think it makes them feel more confident making moves when they see people with the same diagnosis doing it.”

For more on the program, call 412-826-2739 or visit healthsouthharmarville.com.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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