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IRVINE : New Office Will Focus on Disease

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The first satellite office of the national Parkinson’s Disease Foundation will be inaugurated tonight at UC Irvine with a support group meeting for the patients most often overlooked--those in their 40s and 50s.

The establishment of the branch office of the New York City-based nonprofit organization on the UC Irvine campus coincides with the arrival of Dr. Michael Dogali at the UCI Medical Center. Dogali was appointed chair of the university’s neurosurgery department last month and is considered a pioneer in surgical procedures for treating Parkinson’s patients.

Dogali and neurologist Dr. Daniel Truong, director of the UCI Parkinson and Movement Disorders Program, will be guest speakers at the meeting, scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the campus Medical Plaza.

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“We’re trying to get some awareness in the community of the new research and the new procedures available for Parkinson’s patients,” said Gloria Pekala Hanrahan, West Coast coordinator for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, which was founded in 1957.

“Too often, Parkinson’s is not diagnosed. People ignore the tremors until it gets so bad that they have trouble walking and they can’t ignore it.”

Most Parkinson’s support groups focus on older patients, according to Hanrahan. “This support group is open to everyone, but our emphasis is toward people who are in their 40s and 50s,” she said.

Parkinson’s is caused by a deficiency of dopamine in the brain, according to the foundation, which estimates that there are between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans who have the disease.

For more information, call (714) 824-3870 or (800) 457-6676.

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