As a rehabilitation continuum coordinator at Baltimore’s MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Karen Amoyal makes sure that patients have the services they need to flourish after they leave the inpatient rehabilitation unit.

Physical, occupational and speech therapies “enable patients to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social functional levels,” says Amoyal, a Pikesville resident.

But Amoyal’s dedication to the health care field doesn’t end when she leaves her office at MedStar Good Samaritan. In her spare time, Amoyal is a member of the board of directors of the Maryland Association for Parkinson’s Support Inc.

Karen Amoyal
Karen Amoyal: “It is possible to have a good to great quality of life with Parkinson’s disease.” (Provided photo)

On Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, MAPS presented its Living with Parkinson’s Virtual Symposium 2020.

The program included keynote addresses by Dr. Ariane Cometa, a family physician and founder of the Cockeysville-based Your Holistic Doc LLC, who spoke about Holistic Medicine and Parkinson’s on Oct. 18, and neurologist Dr. Nadia Yusef, who discussed Parkinson’s disease psychosis in the Covid-19 era, on Oct.25.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the dopamine-producing neurons in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra.

The progression of the disorder is different for each person who has Parkinson’s disease but common symptoms include tremors, limb rigidity, gait and balance difficulties and Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown and there is no cure. Treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include over-the-counter and prescription medications, surgeries, exercise and medical marijuana.

Amoyal says she is “passionate about sharing the stories of people living with the disease and speaking about the free programs and services MAPS has to offer.”

Program offerings — including singing, dancing, boxing pedaling, general exercise and caregiver support groups —“encourage healthy lifestyles for all those affected by Parkinsonian disorders.”

Currently, says Amoyal, all MAPS programs are virtual and some are temporarily canceled due to COVID-19.

“Being a part of this amazing organization that assists so many people in the Parkinson’s community has given me purpose,” she says. “To know that I was able to make a positive difference in the quality of life of a person and assist them and their family with the many challenges Parkinson’s disease has to navigate gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

“It is possible to have a good to great quality of life with Parkinson’s disease.”

For more information about MAPS services, visit marylandparkinsonsupport.org.