Saint Luke’s to Launch Art Therapy Program for People with Parkinson’s Disease

August 17, 2020

Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute is offering an art therapy program for people living with Parkinson’s disease supported by a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation. It will be the only program of its kind in the Kansas City area and will be run by a certified art therapist who is also a licensed clinical professional counselor. Classes will be free and open to the public.

The program will start with a four-week intensive series that meets weekly starting in October 2020 and then continue meeting monthly through August 2021. In compliance with the COVID-19 pandemic, the classes will require participants to wear masks, sit at least six feet apart, and hand sanitizer will be available.

“Art therapy has been shown to help with hand dexterity, mood, elevated self-expression, and enhanced quality of life,” said Susan Sifers, MD, MS, Director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Saint Luke’s Neuroscience Institute. “I came up with the idea and discussed with the art therapist about expected clinical outcomes and then found what I felt to be the appropriate tools to assess them in this population.”

Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid. This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinson’s disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia. It is most common in people above age 50 but some younger people may also get Parkinson's disease. It's diagnosed more often in men than in women and you’re more likely to have it if you have a family history of the disease.

The first four weeks of classes will focus on working with clay. The remaining monthly classes will incorporate other mediums such as drawing and printmaking. Measurement tools to assess the impact of the program will include two questionnaires before and after class and a test with blocks and boxes to examine gross manual hand dexterity.

Classes will begin October 1 and take place from 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Broadway medical building across the street from Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. A maximum of 30 spots are available. Register online or by calling 816-932-5100.

Supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation


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