Framing Off Through Art

"There's nothing better than collaboration to get answers you're looking for" - Steve DeWitte, living with Parkinson’s since 2005

MINDSET

MINDSET
John Pelchat

John Pelchat

MINDSET

When John’s Parkinson’s symptoms began, they made movement frustrating – from signing checks to playing golf. It was only when John joined a support group that he began to approach his Parkinson’s “with open eyes.” He began discussing his Parkinson’s symptoms, learning from others how to better manage his symptoms, and cultivating a mindset to face new challenges, like his OFF periods.

John has recently started to experience OFF periods, describing them as making him feel “out of control.” His wife, Susan, notices his OFF periods when his gait starts to slow down and he has a certain tilt to his head. Susan noted, “His brain is telling him to take big steps, but his feet aren’t listening.”

John and Susan have taken measures to control what they can living with Parkinson’s. They participate in support groups and regular group exercise sessions. He regularly applies what they talk about in their support group, such as communicating his symptoms and reminding himself to exaggerate his movements and take big steps to manage his shuffling. After exercise sessions, John feels exhilarated, and more cognizant of his body.

The artwork created by Anita depicts the power of the brain as well as the man within the man. John feels strong, with a strong mind and body, but at times there is broken communication between the two, which represents his OFF periods. But he is determined and looking ahead, ready to take the next step forward.

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Perspectives

John Pelchat

John Pelchat was a classroom teacher for over 13 years and served as an elementary school principal for 23 years, earning the respect of colleagues, parents and students because of his fair, calm and logical nature. In 2009, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and joined his local support group soon after.

John was a classroom teacher for over 13 years and served as an elementary school principal for 23 years, earning the respect of colleagues, parents and students because of his fair, calm and logical nature. In 2009, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and joined his local support group soon after. Active in the group’s exercise classes, he has found great benefit from bi-weekly sessions.

John is a Navy veteran, having served in Vietnam as an inventory manager for avionics. He conducted training sessions to help new soldiers adjust to life in Vietnam, including the dangers of certain areas and activities. John served in his local, state and national teachers’ unions on committees related to professional development and the resolutions of the organizations. He is a lifelong member of the Connecticut Education and the National Education Associations.

John Pelchat

Susan Pelchat

Susan Pelchat is a Parkinson’s advocate and retired educator from Torrington, Connecticut with 36 years of experience. She serves as president of her husband’s support group, the Torrington Area Parkinson’s Support Group and chairs the annual “Walk in the Woods for Parkinson’s.” Susan is also as a member of the Make a Difference Parkinson’s Alliance, which raises funds, educates people on current therapies, research and medications for people with Parkinson’s and aims to improve the quality of life for those living with the disease through patient-centered research and resources.

Susan is a Parkinson’s advocate and retired educator from Torrington, Connecticut with 36 years of experience. During her tenure, she taught in the classroom, worked as a computer specialist and finished her career as a reading interventionist. She teamed with colleagues to develop a training program for “Total-Involvement, Continuous Improvement,” where teachers were introduced to strategies for meeting management, problem analysis, communication and team building. In 2015, Susan was elected international president of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international organization for outstanding women educators.

Susan serves as president of her husband’s support group, the Torrington Area Parkinson’s Support Group and chairs the annual “Walk in the Woods for Parkinson’s,” which benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in addition to funding an exercise program for local people with Parkinson’s. Susan is also a member of the Make a Difference Parkinson’s Alliance, which raises funds, educates people on current therapies, research and medications for people with Parkinson’s and aims to improve the quality of life for those living with the disease through patient-centered research and resources.

Susan Pelchat

Dr. Leonard Verhagen Metman, M.D.

Leonard Verhagen Metman, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified neurologist, an Associate Professor at Rush Medical College, and the Medical Director of the Neurosurgery Program for Movement Disorders, at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He specializes in the medical and surgical management of people with Parkinson’s and other Movement Disorders such as essential tremor and dystonia.

Leonard Verhagen Metman, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified neurologist, an Associate Professor at Rush Medical College, and the Medical Director of the Neurosurgery Program for Movement Disorders at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He specializes in the medical and surgical management of people with Parkinson’s and other Movement Disorders such as essential tremor and dystonia. Dr. Verhagen Metman earned his medical and doctorate degrees from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1983.

After coming to the United States in 1985 to work in the Division of Artificial Organs at the University of Utah, he decided to pursue his interest in the neurosciences and accepted a fellowship in the Division of Restorative Neurology and Human Neurobiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Subsequently, he completed a neurology residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Upon completion in 1992, he accepted a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in the Experimental Therapeutics Branch of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. After completing this fellowship in 1994, he stayed at the NIH for another five years, first as Visiting Associate, later as Visiting Scientist. The Branch’s main focus was on pharmacological studies of motor response complications in Parkinson’s. In 1999, he joined the Movement Disorder Section of the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical center, one of the largest movement disorders centers in the United States, to work with his colleagues on treatments for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders through clinical research.

Dr. Leonard Verhagen Metman, M.D.

Anita Kunz

Anita is a Canadian-born artist and illustrator whose clientele has included TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ, The New York Times, Sony Music, Random House Publishing and many others. Anita’s friend and fellow artist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Anita is a Canadian-born artist and illustrator whose clientele has included TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ, The New York Times, Sony Music, Random House Publishing and many others. Anita’s friend and fellow artist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Anita has been honored with many prestigious awards and medals and her critically acclaimed paintings and sculptures have appeared in galleries worldwide, including the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts and the Teatrio Cultural Association in Rome. Her works are also in the permanent collections at the Library of Congress, the Canadian Archives in Ottawa and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome. A number of Anita’s Time Magazine cover paintings are in the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Anita Kunz

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