Patients, Caregivers, Doctors Unite at Parkinson’s Forum

Nearly 200 people came together at UAMS for the fourth annual Parkinson’s Forum to give the disease a one-two punch.

One: Arm yourself with the latest information about the treatment of Parkinson’s.

Two: Surround yourself with a community of fellow patients, caregivers and supporters.


Audience members shadow boxing

The audience practices their boxing skills.

This year, the punching was more than just a metaphor. Danny Dring, owner of and master instructor at Living Defense Martial Arts in Sherwood, demonstrated Rock Steady Boxing, a boxing program specifically designed to increase coordination, speed and confidence for Parkinson’s patients.

Following Dring’s instructions, the crowd held their arms overhead and circled their wrists and they popped up and down out of their chairs to warm up, and then they used their fists to fight the phantom foes in the air before them.

Event organizer Erika Petersen, M.D., a neurosurgeon and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’sDepartment of Neurosurgery, said they try to include an exercise demonstration like Dring’s at each event. Previously they’ve had Thai Chi, and future programs might include chair yoga or salsa dancing.

Erika Petersen, M.D., speaks at a podium

Erika Petersen, M.D., associate professor of neurosurgery and director of the Section of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery, organizes the annual forum.

Exercise is part of the well-rounded, multidisciplinary approach to treating Parkinson’s at the Movement Disorders Clinicat UAMS.

“We launched the Parkinson’s Forum a few years after forming the multidisciplinary movement disorders program, which is unique in the state. We have a comprehensive program where everything is under one roof – neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, researchers, speech-language pathologists and other specialists,” Petersen said. “We wanted to provide patients with a way to learn about everything we are working on and what’s new with Parkinson’s research and treatment, while building community at the same time.”

Forty people attended the first Parkinson’s Forum, which has grown steadily from there.

This year’s event was held April 15 at the UAMS Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute. It featured experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s, information on research and clinical trials and discussions for patients and caregivers about living with the disease. For the first time this year, doctors, nurses and pharmacists could apply for continuing medical education for attending the forum.

Topics included:

  • Clinical trials basics for Parkinson’s disease
  • Cognition in Parkinson’s disease
  • Panels on multidisciplinary approaches to mild as well as moderate and advanced Parkinson’s disease
  • Deep brain stimulation: what’s new?
Panel of experts on stage

Rachel Beckham; from left, Mary Latham; Tuhin Virmani, M.D./Ph.D.; and Shannon Doerhoff participate in a panel conversation.

Movement disorders include essential tremor, Huntington’s disease, ataxia, Tourette’s syndrome and other conditions that cause tremors, involuntary movements and difficulty walking.

Petersen is director of the Section of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery at UAMS. A fellowship-trained neurosurgeon, Petersen can perform a number of specialized surgeries, including deep brain stimulation, which acts similar to a pacemaker for the brain and blocks some of the signals that cause the increasingly debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s, dystonia and essential tremor that can make daily life difficult.

For more information or to join a list to receive updates about future Parkinson’s events, call 501-686-5270.

 By  April 24th, 2018 |

Dr. Analiz Rodriguez Awarded 2018 Seeds of Science Grant

“The newly awarded grant will assist scientists at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute in their search for new and innovative cancer treatments. The grants of $10,000 each were presented to young investigators by the Envoys, a volunteer advocacy group of the Cancer Institute Foundation, during their “Doctor is In” reception and research poster showcase Jan. 25.

Marie Burdine, Ph.D.; Brendan Frett, Ph.D.; Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D.; and Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.

The 2018 Seeds of Science grant recipients at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute included (left to right) Marie Burdine, Ph.D.; Brendan Frett, Ph.D.; Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D.; and Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.

Although advances in immunotherapy have offered great promise for several types of cancer, outcomes for an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma remain grim. Rodriguez’s project uses the surgical technique laser thermal ablation in combination with immunotherapy to alter the immune microenvironment, cause cancer cell death and open the area around the tumor in an effort to improve outcomes for patients with this disease.”

The 2018 Seeds of Science grant recipients at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute included (left to right) Marie Burdine, Ph.D.; Brendan Frett, Ph.D.; Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D.; and Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.




Dr. Erika Petersen “first in the region” Intellis SCS

Dr. Petersen in surgery

“The Intellis platform was designed to overcome limitations with current spinal cord stimulation (SCS) systems, such as battery performance, and can power the EvolveSM workflow*, which standardizes guidance and balances high-dose (HD) and low-dose (LD) therapy settings. The Intellis platform can record and track patient activity 24/7 and is managed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet interface, enabling physicians to address the subjective and personal nature of chronic pain by monitoring progress and making modifications to better suit their patients’ therapy needs.”


The M. Gazi and Dianne C.H. Yaşargil Endowed Lectureship – January 19, 2018

“Vascular Reconstruction in Neurosurgery

Speaker: Takanori Fukushima, M.D., D.M.Sc.
Director, Skull Base Surgery Center
Co-Director, International Neurosurgery Education Foundation
Carolina Neuroscience Institute, PC

Dr.Fukushima founded the Carolina Neuroscience Institute.Dr. Fukushima is described by many as “The nation’s top influence” of neurosurgery microscopic surgery. He is a visiting professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Honorary Professor of the University of Marseille, France, University of Rome, Italy.


Annual Parkinson’s Forum: Let’s Get a Move On

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Each year, 50 to 60 thousand new cases are diagnosed in the United States. Researchers are working toward finding a cure and making progress on the best treatment options. April 15, 2018 UAMS will host its annual forum to discuss Parkinson’s disease. This event is  open to Neurosurgeons, Neurologists, Patients with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, Patient Caregivers and Family members, and anyone else interested in learning about Parkinson’s Disease, treatment options, research initiatives, and living with Parkinson’s Disease. This event was live-streamed to Washington Regional Medical Center.

We have attached links to videos from past meetings below.

“Welcome” Dr. Erika Petersen and “The Challenge of Parkinson’s Disease” Dr. Steve Metzer

“Cognition in Parkinson’s Disease” Dr. Jennifer Kleiner Fausett

“The Effects of Exercise on Parkinson’s Disease” Dr. Alan Diamond

“Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease” Dr. Erika Petersen

“God, Golf, and Parkinson’s: A Patient’s Perspective” Ms. Barbara Hogg

“Parkinson’s Research: Towards Causes and Cures” Dr. Tuhin Virmani

Upcoming 2018 Courses Offered by the UAMS Department of Neurosurgery 

  • Advanced Skull Base Surgical Training Course: TBD
    This two and one half day course is specifically designed for neurosurgical residents in their final two years of training who desire to enhance their skills in microneurosurgery of cranial base lesions. This course will emphasize hands-on laboratory training with a one-to-one specimen-to-participant ratio to maximize the experience. The curriculum will cover the spectrum of anterior, central, middle, and posterior skull base approaches and techniques.
  • Advanced Considerations of Complex Brain Tumor Resection: A White Matter and Complex Approach Dissection Course
    This two and one half day course is designed for practicing neurosurgeons. This course will emphasize hands-on-laboratory training with a one-to-one specimen-to-participant ratio to maximize the experience. The Program Highlights will include Klinger method brain white matter dissection, virtual reality dissection, and rehearsal of complex approaches through cadaver dissection.

Further information on all of these courses can be obtained by contacting Amy Keeland at