Natalia Suller Balaguer works in the Parkinson Association of the Castellón Province, Spain, as a psychologist in and is our latest Spanish i-Prognosis ambassador. Read more about the association and Natalia’s interest in i-Prognosis.
What is the purpose of your association?
The Parkinson Association of the Castellón Province has its beginnings in October 1998, and was formally established in January 1999. The association was founded by a group of relatives of people with Parkinson’s disease, to improve their quality of life and the one of their their families. We offer rehabilitation and maintenance therapies, provide information about the disease, promote health-care measures, represent Parkinson’s patients towards the government and collaborate with researchers. In 2013 we received the declaration of being in the public interest.
Currently, the Association offers the following services: group and individual maintenance and rehabilitation therapies that constitute an integral treatment, complementary to the pharmacological treatment, for Parkinson’s disease; self-help groups for family members, caregivers and for people with Parkinson’s disease; training programs for family members and caregivers; information, referral and advice services on socio-health resources; organized visits and various sociocultural activities. We do all of this to improve the quality of life of members.
Do you think research projects on the early detection of the disease are important?
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, but its diagnosis, assessment and treatment are complex and require early health care. Therefore, investment in the investigation of its early detection is increasingly relevant.
In up to 30% of cases the patient is told that he has Parkinson’s when he actually has another movement disorder with similar symptoms. According to the Spanish Parkinson’s Federation, it takes three to five years to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis because of the confusion that still exists in the specific knowledge of its symptoms.
Therefore, it is necessary to create tools for both primary care consultations and those affected to detect symptoms early and reach an accurate diagnosis more quickly.
The correct and early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease has become a fundamental requirement to improve the quality of life of those affected, since, fortunately, we have pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments that have been very useful in early stages.
What do you think of digital technologies, such as online games for exercise, to help people live better with the disease?
Digital technologies have opened a new world of intervention possibilities at all levels. They allow us to design cognitive training programs combining language, attention, memory and reasoning with great adaptability and with the option of incorporating visual and auditory stimuli.
On the other hand, the use of new technologies allows interactivity and feedback that act as a motivating factor and adherence to the intervention.
Access to technology is necessary in today’s society and mastering technology has many benefits (communication, information, training, leisure, etc.) also providing new opportunities for relationships with the people around them. In other words, they have a facilitating role in the socialization of users.
Being able to access this technology from home multiplies benefits as the therapist’s role is reinforced by personal initiative work outside the center. In this sense, we also favor user autonomy.
Therefore, not using technology as a therapeutic tool despite knowing all the benefits that have already been demonstrated and validated would be irresponsibility on the part of the professional.