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Smiling Through Art

Posted by on March 5th, 2018 Posted in: Blog, Patient Engagement, Public Health

The following blog post is written by one of our newest network members, Saba Shahid, the Chief Smiling Officer of The Art Cart, a creativity and movement program for people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

As defined by MedlinePlus, PD is a type of movement disorder and occurs when nerve cells in the brain do not produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine causes rigidity in several parts of the body and causes abnormal movement. Did you know the “inability to smile” also known as facial masking or decreased range of facial expression is a symptom of PD?

The Art Cart has developed a series of Smile Through Art Workshops which focus on combating several symptoms of PD including depression, loss of fine motor control, tremors, Micrographia. Figure 1 depicts how depression is being combated and mood is being enhanced by attending our workshops. Through voluntary surveys, participants living with PD are asked how they were feeling before coming to our workshop and how they are feeling after completing the Smile Through Art Workshop. Mood is shown to enhance positively in all cases.


Figure 1: Parkinson’s Mood Analysis Survey Results

The Art Cart is an organization located in Worcester, Massachusetts and provides programming throughout the state of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Through grants offered by The American Parkinson Disease Association Massachusetts and Rhode Island Chapter, programming is free of cost to participants living with PD and their care partners.

 Let’s Combat Micrographia, is an interactive workbook written by Saba Shahid that focuses on improving small, cramped handwriting that is found in many people living with PD. The Art Cart also offers Let’s Combat Micrographia workshops to help improve handwriting.  Join us March 22, 2018 for a workshop information session at UMASS Memorial Hospital located in Worcester, MA.

More information on workshop dates, times, and how to sign up can be found online at  www.smilethroughart.com.

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NNLM New England Region
University of Massachusetts Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5985

This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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