It’s estimated that around 1 million people in the USA are living with Parkinson’s Disease. Of those, over 10% – about 110,000 – are veterans.
PD symptoms tend to appear at age 50 or older, and environmental risks and traumatic brain injury are all associated with developing the disease. Given that roughly half of all ex-service members are over 64, and many have had experiences that put them into the at-risk bracket, it’s not surprising that such a number of veterans are living with Parkinson’s.
In late 2020, a partnership was formed between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Parkinson’s Foundation that aims to deliver better health outcomes and improved quality of life for veterans, by making sure the information and resources those diagnosed with the disease need are easily accessible.
Notably though, the partnership goes further than simply providing access to the right information. Goals include educating veterans and providers on Parkinson’s management best practices and actively helping those affected to navigate often confusing Parkinson’s-related health and social services.
Ronnie Todaro – executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation – notes that the Foundation has found that America’s veterans are not always aware of the resources and services available through the VA, which can lead to them being underserved when it comes to access to the right health care.
One particular problem has been identifying Parkinson’s symptoms early enough to allow veterans to engage the providers that are best placed to help them manage their PD.
Parkinson’s Research, Education and Clinical Centers
These centers – funded by the VA and staffed by internationally known movement disorder specialists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, researchers, social workers and other Parkinson’s experts – are spread across the USA.
They can help service members to effectively manage PD and other movement disorders by way of VA pharmacy benefits; physical, occupational and speech therapies; medical equipment; surgical services; and other valuable resources.
Veterans and Access to NexStride
The challenge of developing a device that would help to overcome Parkinson’s freezing was laid down by a veteran. The prototype of NexStride proved so effective for him that the word spread.
Jack is no longer with us, but the mission to help veterans manage Parkinson’s remains a deeply personal one. That’s why we’re so pleased that NexStride is now an approved vendor for the VA.
Thanks to VA funding, the NexStride device is completely free for veterans.
It’s one of the many veterans benefits that the VA and Parkinson’s Foundation partnership offers to help to reduce the cost of Parkinson’s on veterans and their families.