Fighting back against Parkinson's

Huntsville retiree Jerry Stover (pictured with her daughter Tammy Caruso) has been living with Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years.Jerry Stover and Tammy Caruso

For a long time, the symptoms were so mild that few people outside of Jerry’s immediate family noticed. But after Jerry was hospitalized with pneumonia and then her husband died in 2019, the disease seemed to become more aggressive.

Within a few months, Jerry could no longer live independently and moved in with her daughter, Tammy Caruso.

Driving around Huntsville, Tammy had seen the signs for Huntsville Hospital’s Parkinson’s Care Clinic. Located at the Huntsville Hospital Medical Mall, the clinic opened in 2017 to provide outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy to those with Parkinson’s disease. Thanks to generous support from the Parkinson’s Foundation and Huntsville Hospital Foundation, the clinic has been able to expand its services and reach even more families.

As Jerry’s symptoms worsened, Tammy called the Parkinson’s Care Clinic for help.

“I did some research and saw they offered therapy, and I thought my mother would benefit from that,” Tammy said. “We had our initial appointment with Erin, who was so kind and knowledgeable. Mother really related well to her.”

Erin is Erin Edmondson, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and director of the Huntsville Hospital Parkinson’s Care Clinic.

Since that initial visit, Jerry has become a familiar face at the clinic. The 81-year-old retired dental hygienist likes to do two physical therapy sessions a week (preferably on Tuesdays and Thursdays). She also attends a Dance for Parkinson’s class at the Huntsville-Madison County Senior Center that has a Parkinson’s Care Clinic connection (Clarissa Sharp, who teaches the dance class, works at the clinic as a physical therapist).

Tammy said her mother loves the clinic and is noticeably better when she goes regularly.

“The staff builds her up,” Tammy said. “We try to do therapy at home, but it’s not the same. I think she tries harder at the clinic.”

While the Parkinson’s Care Clinic exists to serve patients, Tammy said the entire family benefits from the expertise of the clinic’s staff. “They’re so supportive of caregivers,” she said. “Anytime I have questions, they always have great information that can help us at home, too. Going to the clinic has been great for my mother – and also for me.”

Huntsville Hospital’s Parkinson’s Care Clinic is accepting new patients. Call (256) 265-7101 to schedule an evaluation. A physician referral is required prior to or after the initial visit for therapy services.