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    Group Doctor Visits May Help Parkinson’s Patients

    Researchers Say Group Sessions Give Patients More Time With Doctors

    Group Visits vs. Traditional Care continued...

    “There is insufficient time to engage and discuss issues that are important,” Dorsey says.

    The group visits “try to marry the best of support group and one-on-one doctor encounters to deliver health care for people with chronic conditions,” he says.

    “Patients don’t know other individuals who have similar burdens, and there are also geographic barriers to Parkinson’s specialists,” he says.

    Are group visits a cure-all for Parkinson’s disease?

    Likely not, Dorsey says, but “this is a step in the right direction for changing the way that health care is given to people with Parkinson’s, disease.”

    There may also be a role for telemedicine in treating people with Parkinson’s, he says.

    Telemedicine allows for virtual visits with your doctor via a computer. “This can remove geographical barriers to care for people with Parkinson disease who are in nursing homes,” he says.

    More Time With Doctor in Group Sessions

    Stephen G. Reich, MD, co-director of the Parkinson's disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, co-authored an editorial accompanying the new study with William J. Weiner, MD, chair of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    Group visits are “one potential part of care, not a solution,” he says. “It is challenging to meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s disease and group visits are not a substitute for one-on-one visits, but may be an adjunct.”

    In these group sessions, “patients may have more time with the physician and there could be mutual support from other patients and caregivers,” he says.

    Parkinson’s is more than just a movement disorder. Besides tremor, stiffness, slowness, and imbalance, people with Parkinson’s disease also are prone to depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment including hallucination, sleep disorders, swallowing difficulty, bladder and bowel problems, pain, numbness and tingling, he says. Caregiver issues are also paramount, Reich says.

    “How could you really cover all of those things in the usual half-an-hour visit?”

    "The idea is fascinating," says Michele Tagliati, MD, director of the movement disorders program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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