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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dr. Nina Mosier saw firsthand how challenging a Parkinson’s diagnosis can be for a family when she helped her father navigate living with the disease.
As he started to decline, she said some very specific, targeted physical therapy for Parkinson’s helped him “improve dramatically.”
But continuing that physical therapy wasn’t a sustainable option — so former internist Mosier and her friend Susan Stahl, who also lost her father to Parkinson’s, decided to create Power For Parkinson’s.
Mosier’s father died in 2020, but her work with the nonprofit now helps others like him through free exercise and physical therapy classes. It offers multiple in-person classes all over Austin, and has a large library of videos for virtual classes on YouTube. The classes work people’s brains, bodies, strength, balance and voice.
“People with Parkinson’s are lacking in dopamine significantly, and that slows them down in so many ways, and is responsible for so many of their symptoms,” Mosier said. “So by constantly stimulating the brain to make these new connections, it makes a world of difference for them.”
At a Power For Parkinson’s class at Covenant Presbyterian Church on a Tuesday afternoon, dozens of participants sang, danced, lifted weights and did a variety of body movements while sitting and standing — all with the help of an instructor and multiple volunteers.
“Exercise for Parkinson’s is really a disease-modifying agent and it’s the only one for Parkinson’s,” Mosier said. “Medication can help control symptoms, but by exercising, you can really get a handle on symptoms and even reverse symptoms.”
Judy Powell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2022. She was attending the class that day and said she realized “this is perfect” for her to be able to address some of the issues she’s seeing.
“I think we kind of start folding up,” she said of patients like her. “And one of our things (in the class) was to blow yourself up, you know.”
Power for Parkinson’s also has weekly support group meetings, which help with the mental health struggles that come with a diagnosis.
“Having some community, having people — because you do, you do start to feel like your body that you lived in all these years is suddenly starting to fail you,” Powell said.
That community isn’t just in Central Texas.
At the height of the pandemic, Mosier turned even more attention to YouTube to keep the Power For Parkinsons’ community connected.
“We were live streaming every single day during the pandemic, chatting with people from all over the world,” Mosier said. “And, long story short, we are now the top channel on YouTube for Parkinson’s fitness. We reach people in over 50 countries. We’ve had over 3.5 million views on YouTube and every month we have over 100,000 views. So we’ve turned into a global organization, and I never thought I’d be a YouTuber!”
Powell reflected on all the people Mosier has helped, including herself.
“I think I’ve just seen that since I was diagnosed a year ago. How many lives that she affected in 10 years. And the lives of the participants — How about the lives of the spouses, the children, the parents,” Powell said.
Mosier is a remarkable woman, honoring her father in a remarkable way.
“I know he told me how proud he was of me, which meant a lot. He was a doctor also. And he was a psychiatrist, and a very, very kind, warm person. And I think it meant a lot to him. And it meant a lot to my family,” Mosier said.
She added that “Parkinson’s is a disease of the family,” and impacts everyone — something she experienced firsthand and hopes to help others work through with Power for Parkinson’s.
“We all saw the benefits,” she said. “So it is a way to honor him and I’m so happy that I can do it and have been able to help so many other people that have been affected.”