Her freezing gait caused her to stumble while walking through her house after sitting for a long period of time.
Jane Rice Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in October of 2016. She is the founder and director of Parkinson’s in Motion, which focuses on getting those with Parkinson’s to move and exercise to slow down the disease.
Most famously, Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s. He is well-known for his roles in movies such as the Back to the Future series and “Doc Hollywood“. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Parkinson’s Disease occurs when brain cells quit making a movement coordination chemical called dopamine. The cells either stop working or they die. Parkinson’s Disease can cause tremors, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems. It can also cause unseen and hard-to-diagnose issues such as constipation, apathy, and psychosis.
“I was a worker’s comp judge,” Williams said in reference to when she first noticed something was wrong, “so I did a lot of sitting. My husband kept telling me I needed an ergonomic chair.”
Mackey Williams, her husband, is the parks director for Laurel County. He built the Veterans Park, and he kept insisting that the reason her shoulder was so stiff was that she wasn’t sitting right.
But Williams noticed other issues, such as that her arm had a lot of pain in the shoulder, and that her arm was not swinging. She also started to notice issues with her gait. Williams spent a year trying to self-diagnose herself since she knew several doctors from the work she did as a worker’s compensation judge.
After three days of testing, the doctor sat Williams down and explained she might have Parkinson’s. “I was just stunned, I went home and told Mackey, and we just cried.”
Williams has decided not to give up, however. She felt like there was a reason for her diagnosis even when she wanted to give up. And she might not have become the founder of Parkinson’s in Motion had she not gotten her own diagnosis.
Williams founded Parkinson’s in Motion in 2018.
Exercise is the key to slowing down the disease. While there may be some trials and research with stem cells, there is no absolute cure. Exercise is the only way to slow down the symptoms.
If you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s, you have only met one person with Parkinson’s. Williams doesn’t have tremors like her friend, who first helped her find a doctor after her diagnosis, but she does have a freezing gait.
“Your body propels, but your feet don’t quite take that step,” Williams explained. She needs a walker at night after her medication wears off.
Williams is still trying to get events and meetings organized for Parkinson’s in Motion, although she is trying to spread the word about her non-profit organization. They used to have monthly meetings, but COVID slowed them down, and they had to stop.
During 2020, Williams focused on getting her status as a non-profit 501-C3 organization. They have begun holding the meetings again at Revolution Physical Therapy in London.
According to Williams, Revolution Physical Therapy has been the one place willing to work with Parkinson’s patients.
“The only time they didn’t come (the patients) was the three weeks COVID shut down everything,” Williams said.
Williams would like the community to know that there are resources for them, or for family members, if they suspect symptoms may be pointing towards Parkinson’s Disease. She doesn’t want anyone to feel alone and she wants to keep spreading the message that movement and exercise are the main key to slowing down the disease. Patients are most often men, and the age the diagnosis comes often when the patient is in their 60s.
You may reach her at her e-mail address, PIM.EastKY@gmail.com.