Judith†Roberson†is†a speech pathologist living with Parkinsonís disease†in Delaware. †
When I was†first†diagnosed†with Parkinson's disease (PD) two years ago,†I tried my best to begin this new journey by expressing optimism. I†had†been living with†symptoms†for†nearly a decade†and searching for a definitive answer for nearly two years. My medical training gave me a unique understanding of changes in speech that many living with†PD†experience, and also the importance of addressing these issues with a specialist. ††
The symptoms of Parkinson's disease are a part of a fluctuating condition that alters day to day.†It†causes a great shift in the lives of those†who have†it, and can be isolating.†I was not expecting to find anything positive, but I have†found that Parkinsonís†can be manageable with the right tools†and the right people.†I also realized that my professional background could help others living with PD.
I began seeing a physical therapist, Jay†Kogon, who began LSVT BIG therapy with me as well as other techniques that he has learned.†Jay†is outstanding†not only as a PT, but he has also†encouraged me to reach out to others living with PD.
Jay collaborated with a dance choreographer and designed aerobics for a 15-person, hour-long†PD†dance class, utilizing the concepts of LSVT BIG.†Iíve discovered that movement is my joy and exercising is now a central part of my life; it has become my daily dopamine-builder. I†now teach†Taiji/Qigong to a small group†of†PD†patients.†Iíve found†that†all of these activities†are essential to†both†maintaining†skills and†building†positivity†through the†social support†they provide.
I had planned on retiring at age 65,†but the diagnosis and my work with†Jay†inspired†me to†instead incorporate my health challenges†into my work. I trained in LSVT LOUD and started working with†other†Parkinsonís†patients†and was surprised by how much I loved serving others that were working through similar challenges.†I†reduced my caseload to half pediatrics and half adults with†PD, working part time.†Recently I have completed nine online courses for the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases†and I look forward to updating my work with concussion†and traumatic brain injury.†I†am a part of Jay's dream to develop a center†for neurodegenerative diseases†focusing†on speech, occupational and physical therapy as well as counseling.†
By adjusting to the changes that the condition carries, I have created a new normal for myself.†It is because of Parkinsonís that I have become more spiritual and have learned to appreciate life and those around me.†I continue to face challenges daily, but†I am motivated to continue my work and my life with my loved ones and the†PD†community, knowing we can live well and support others in doing so too.