Category: News

collection of news stories


Parkinson’s Fitness and MedRhythms Neurologic Music Therapy collaborated to provide THE  best educational seminar at the Beverly COA on September 7th!

MedRhythms Neurologic Music Therapy CEO/co-founder, Brian Harris, presented such interactive, engaging, eye-opening information, that all 78 of us who attended couldn’t believe how quickly an hour and a half passed by! Everyone remained completely focused on what Brian explained and demonstrated.

Video clips showing the effect of using music rhythms to reach areas of the brain that control speech, body movements, and cognition were fascinating, especially because actual patients were shown interacting with the MedRhythms therapists. Brian and a seminar audience volunteer held everyone’s attention as she participated in a demonstration of how rhythmic beat affects the way our brain “tells” the body how to move.

Our audience included people affected by Parkinson’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy and other forms of neurologic conditions, as well as memory impairment. Brian’s program was a wonderful introduction into a complementary form of neurologic therapy. To witness in the videos the effect of specifically chosen rhythms on movement and gait, and the happy look of satisfaction on the face of a patient who re-gained his ability to once again communicate, was heartening to watch.

There’s a future filled with promise waiting to be explored by many people here in our local communities, and we will do whatever we possibly can to create a way to build programming that includes MedRhythms neurologic music therapies. We invite you to join our efforts!

To read more about MedRhythms, click here.




The Michael J. Fox Foundation is well known for the vast amounts of information they make available for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Often we have questions to ask our personal physicians, but either forget to do it, the doctor seems over-scheduled and hurried during an appointment, or perhaps he or she simply doesn’t know the answer.

Take some time to visit this link to the Foundation’s “Ask the MD” video series, where answers to some of your concerns may be available. Be sure to click on the button labeled “load more posts” located under the first few videos before leaving the site.




That’s right…92 adults and children attended our April 2nd mini-fundraiser at the Sunnyside Bowladrome in Danvers! They came in support of their family members and friends who live with the multifaceted challenges of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. We were delighted to have several participants from our exercise, movement, yoga and music classes come to support the programs they attend (including instructor Kim Crowley from our Beverly and Salem classes and community supporter Suz Malach from the Danvers Community YMCA!), especially because April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month around the world. Who better to be awareness ambassadors than those proving the importance of staying as active as possible while fighting back against a relentlessly tough medical condition!

Good-natured teasing, lots of gutter balls (this writer can attest to too many of her own!), and the friendly conversations shared amid the cheers and jeers and moans and groans heard from the lanes, were topped off by enjoying ice cream sundaes generously provided by Treadwell’s Ice Cream community programming in Peabody.

The supportive spirit from everyone who attended and contributed will help us sustain the quality programs we do our best to offer throughout the North Shore. (Click here to view a schedule of class locations and times.) Thank you to co-founders Linda and Keith Hall for continuing your mission…your Parkinson’s awareness commitment goes far beyond just one month out of the year!



We are grateful to Parkinson’s Fitness program participant, Laurie Grieves, for allowing us to share excerpts from her personal story spoken during our November 3, 2016 second annual fundraiser.

“When Linda asked me to speak at tonight’s spectacular event, I froze! Many things ran through my head in that instant:
• would I do the opportunity justice?
• would I speak clearly?
• would I be understood?
• would I fall ?
• would I freeze?
Then I remembered who I would be speaking to, and I was sure that there would be much understanding. So please, bear with me.

I’m Laurie Grieves and I’m married to Bob Grieves. As a matter of fact, we were married in this very room. …Bob and I live in Peabody with Lucy and Wendell, our dog and cat. (Some of you have met Lucy!) I have 4 wonderful adult children – John, Cara , Alex and Luke – and 3 spectacular granddaughters – Lyla, Ruby and Veda, who live in Atlanta with John and his wife Jenny. God bless the creator of Facetime. Now, if only we had Tickletime and Hugtime as well…but I’m sure that’s coming!

I’ve led a fairly traditional life. Of course, that was until 8 or 9 years ago, when I got the Parkinson’s diagnosis. After nearly a year of searching for answers at the insistence of my sister, who swore that I was shuffling, walking hunched over, and looked angry all the time – I thought it was just my bossy big sister being bossy – I decided to check it out.

I remember, when the neurologist said the words “I’m sure you have Parkinson’s”, that my automatic response was “GET OUT!!!!”, and I struggled with an uncontrollable urge to giggle! He droned on about the symptoms (of Parkinson’s) and he recommended only one single website that he knew of. I brushed him off and went home to figure out how to shake this thing.

After the customary tears, I settled in and just ignored the changes taking place in my body. They were slow but I knew they were there. I would occasionally search the internet for information. But I either found “snake oil remedies” or something unattainable, such as an early-afternoon support group at the local senior center. I was 50 years old and working at the time, so I was unable to go to the senior center during the day. To be honest, the idea of going was less than appealing. But things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

I used to have a little sign in my kitchen that read: “God doesn’t promise you a smooth road, but often times He puts springs in the wagon”. I was certainly experiencing rough roads and wondering, “So, where are the springs for my wagon.”

I retired from my job when the burden of paperwork and memory issues got to be too much. I didn’t feel I was up to any job after that. The disease began to progress and time spent inside our house began to grow. I kept saying, “There have to be other people like me out there!” Finally, one day in my frustration, I typed in an internet search for “Peabody-Exercise-Parkinson’s” and up came The website was only a couple of months old at the time, so I still feel really lucky to have found them that day!

I attended my first class at the Danvers COA and, boy, was I surprised! What a great place and full of life and energy. I was greeted by this tiny lady with a huge smile and infectious laugh – we know her as Linda – and my anxiety evaporated! And on that first day everyone kept talking about someone named Marilyn – Marilyn is on vacation – Marilyn needed a vacation day, etc. I kept thinking, who is this Marilyn and why does she need a vacation day so much? When I finally met her, I understood. She, like the others, just doesn’t stop! I have also had the pleasure of honing my boxing skills under the direction of Keith Hall!

The dedication and commitment shown by this team is remarkable. Whether they are teaching a class of 2 or 22 people, the intensity is the same. They take our health as seriously as we do – maybe even sometimes more so! They are constantly introducing us to new ideas about battling this beast of a disease and there is no snake oil here!

If you told me 10 years ago that I would be dancing, African drumming, volunteering for research studies, attending seminars, bowling, exercising, and singing with a group of people I had never met before, I would have said, “GET OUT!!!” Parkinson’s Fitness is more than an exercise program. It also provides people with a supporting social network that augments the clinical aspects of this disease. We are all weathering this storm and traveling this journey together, and Parkinson’s Fitness has certainly blazed a path for us to follow. Thank you to the team for everything you do. You have truly made a difference in my life and you are the springs in my wagon.”

And we thank YOU, Laurie, for sharing your positive attitude every time you’re with us!
Sharing your story at the fundraiser took courage and grace…and you truly showed both!



This was an amazing day for over 100 people who gathered for our “Managing Life with Parkinson’s” symposium in Danvers!

We partnered with the American Parkinson’s Disease Association Mass Chapter (APDA) to host healthcare presentations that spanned the importance of maintaining a social life and building resilience, understanding the role of blood pressure, and how Parkinson’s-specialized occupational, physical, and speech therapy programs become tools for creating independence and wellness.

To learn more about the programs represented today, please visit the following web sites:

  1. APDA MA Chapter Information and Referral Center at Boston University Medical Center:
  2. Blood Pressure Information:
  3. Health Quality of Life Lab, Tufts University:
  4. Center for Balance, Mobility, and Wellness:
  5. Speech & Swallowing Therapy:
  6. Lee Silverman Voice Therapy for Parkinson’s:


Our G.O.A.L. has always been to provide ways for people with Parkinson’s to Go On Actively Living. click here for class locations and times

We’re excited to partner with Josh Freedland, owner of Marblehead’s Brain & Body Performance of Boston, to integrate our ability-based physical workouts that include boxing with Josh’s exercise-enhanced cognitive training that empowers participants with better awareness, mental focus and decision making skills.

Quoting Josh: “Every athlete goes to the gym working on his or her body…but they don’t train their brains – why not?”

While the NeuroTracker system was not created solely for Parkinson’s disease, Josh’s segment of the program will utilize research-driven technologies and specialized combinations of both physical and cognitive training to help “re-wire” the brain, especially in those with neuro-generative medical conditions and declining cognitive function.

Location: Perfect Balance Conditioning, 63 1/2 Jefferson Avenue, Salem
When: Saturdays – 10:00 – 11:15 AM  and  Thursdays – 1:00 – 2:00 PM
To accommodate members’ schedules, especially those who are still working during the week and wanted a Saturday class, days are interchangeable.

We’re offering a FREE introductory visit! Come try us out!

Music can play a powerful neurological role

Consider the following exchange quoted in a Neurology Now magazine interview. The article was titled “Unchained by Melody” and referred to findings by the late world-famous neurologist, Oliver Sacks.

Neurology Now: What do we know about the effects of music upon people with Parkinson’s?

Oliver Sacks: “In general, when one has a disease of the basal ganglia – such as Parkinson’s – and low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the flow of movement, speech, thought, and feeling has either stopped or takes on a stuttering, sputtering quality. Music can reorganize this and give the people a pattern and timing and rhythm. So, in this way, I think of music as a sort of prosthesis for the injured part of the brain.”

Equally interesting is the following information from an April 2016 write-up in Medical News Today about the effect of music on Parkinson’s (for the full article, visit

“Impairments in breathing and voice are also substantial hurdles that cause a significant drop in quality of life.

Voice impairments impact 60-80% of Parkinson’s patients. Their voice can become monotone and display less variety in volume; there may also be a reduced vocal intensity and pitch, and a harsh, breathy voice.

           Standard Parkinson’s treatments do not target these aspects with the same level of success as the motor symptoms.”

Our Parkinson’s Fitness programming is initiating a new pilot choral group for North Shore Parkinson’s residents for the five Monday afternoons in August. To address facial, swallowing and vocal issues, as well as to foster joy and friendship, our team has partnered with music and neurologic music therapist, Emily Interrante, who lives and practices in the Cape Ann area. Here are the particulars:

Where:  Beverly Council on Aging, second floor (parking and entrance in rear of building), 90 Colon Street, Beverly

Dates:   Mondays – August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29

Time:    2:15 to 3:30 PM – please arrive by 2:15 to “settle in” before the warm-up and singing begins at 2:30

Cost:     Initial five weeks are free of charge!

No prior singing or music-reading experience is necessary. Family members and other support providers are invited to join in this joyful experience.

To register, please email: or phone Parkinson’s Fitness at 781-631-7221 or 781-572-5918


Melody, rhythm, and improvised interpretations!

Our hands and fingers mimicked fireworks exploding all around us…and then turned into raindrops trickling down and creating puddles. Our arms became soaring bird wings…and then moved our bodies as if part of a swim team practicing a variety of strokes. We formed the angles created by a city skyline…and then swayed side to side and in circles as if trees blown by storm winds. We stood and moved randomly about the room…as if on a crowded city sidewalk or inching along in a hallway toward a jam-packed sporting event. We’d move to a verbal cue however we interpreted it, and then quickly transform into something else suggested by the leader. It was as much a session in cognitive training as it was being physically involved.

Improvisation – invention, making it up as you go along, creativeness, imagination.

Under the guidance of our guest, Wake Forest University Associate Professor of Dance Christina Soriano, who visited with us on June 6th from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, our instructors had the benefit of her years of research into the effect of improvised movement on neurological conditions. Among a wide-ranging multitude of credits, she has served as a guest presenter at the Davis Phinney Foundation, and as a panelist at the 2013 World Parkinson Congress on the subject of “Creativity and Parkinson’s Disease.

(visit her web site:

Once again, we’re grateful to Tracy Valletti, Community Relations Coordinator at CareOne in Peabody, for arranging to have us gather in space at their facility on Route 114 across from the North Shore Shopping Mall. It was fun having Tracy join us during the training session…and she also provided refreshments for all of us to enjoy afterward.

We’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned with present and future members of both our exercise and movement classes! As you move toward making a decision to visit any of our classes (see the Class Locations page on the web site), let your home become a make-shift dance studio! Put on some music and just let yourself move around in whatever ways provide you with some moments of feeling free and happy! Take those definitions for the word “improvisation” to heart and try it!

Upcoming Idea Exchange About Movement and Dance…

Our Parkinson’s Fitness team is excited about having Associate Professor of Dance, Christina Soriano, from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina visit with us on June 6th for an exchange of ideas regarding the connection between the arts and various neurodegenerative diseases.

Professor Soriano has extensive teaching and training backgrounds. She has served as a guest presenter at the Davis Phinney Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina and as a panelist at the 2013 World Parkinson Congress on the subject of “Creativity and Parkinson’s Disease”. She has been a featured speaker at the Arts in Medicine Summit at the University of North Carolina Asheville, has taught workshops with arts practitioners in England, and has participated in the LEAD  Conference (Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disabilities), held in Washington DC.

A symposium titled “Aging Re-Imagined” was held March 17 and 18 this year. Chaired by Professor Soriano, it brought together more than 300 faculty, staff, students and members of the Winston-Salem community to discuss the topic of aging. Leading scholars, artists, medical professionals and researchers shared insight on how people age and how society thinks and feels about aging. The event featured national speakers and highlighted research being conducted by Wake Forest faculty.

The following summarization describes Professor Soriano’s philosophy about improvisational movement:

What does improvisational dance look like and why do I value it? The only constant in our lives is change. As we improvise, we discover who we are and what we care about. Movement habits form, and then they are disrupted. For older adults, the ability to navigate changes in routine can be more complicated. My improvisational dance strategies in class enable students to self-generate functional and expressive movement, with no worries about doing it “wrong.” Through a series of often rapidly delivered exercises that challenge cognition as much as physical function, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s patients and undergraduates alike are encouraged to create their personal movement universes. Their bodies make shapes, shift and redirect in space, exploring different speeds and levels of effort along the way. Often, a problem is presented like: “travel from point A to point B in the room but pause along the way and make a reaching gesture followed by a circular shape with your bodies.” Without fail, multiple clever and surprising versions of these prompts result. The class community is a supportive and engaging one.”

“The freedom to move easily and adapt to real life challenges is a fundamental part of the human experience. Movement freedom allows individuals to enjoy a sense of agency and thrive in an ever-changing environment. As we age, being spontaneous can get harder, especially for someone with a neurodegenerative disease.” 

BRAIN: Improvisation is cognitively challenging and requires spontaneous decisions.

BODY: Dance has been shown to decrease fall risk and help with balance.

WELLNESS: Group classes encourage socialization and an overall sense of well-being.

Education, like life itself, is an ongoing, ever-changing process. In our mission to learn as much as we can from colleagues old and new, each of us who instructs or volunteers with the Parkinson’s Fitness programs will create new concepts to try as the result of Professor Soriano’s visit in June. We can hardly wait to share them!

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