Susan Vold took a unique path into nursing and did not obtain her nursing degree until age 47. She was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years but everything changed when her mother went into hospice. Because of the love and care provided by a hospice nurse, she found her true calling in nursing. Since joining M Physicians as a Parkinson’s disease specialty nurse eight years ago, she has dedicated her time to coordinating patient care and managing the University of Minnesota Deep Brain Stimulation Program. She's been involved in multiple events for Parkinson's disease (PD), including rock climbing to raise funds for research. PD is a progressive neurodegenerative disease without a cure. Dopamine producing cells in the brain are destroyed, leading to a multitude of motor and non-motor symptoms.

The DBS program provides a surgical pathway for individuals with Parkinson’s, and other movement disorders, to control their symptoms when medication cannot provide the relief they need. Dr. Jerrold Vitek, M Physicians Neurologist and Chair of the Neurology Department at the University of Minnesota Medical School, is one of the original pioneers and is renowned for his research and knowledge in this area. “I get to work side by side with the brightest minds in this field of neurology,” exclaimed Susan.

The Movement Disorders team is comprised of fifteen interdisciplinary individuals who advocate for those with PD and partner with their patients to provide holistic care with unwavering compassion.

Our Parkinson’s patients are inspirations to me. I’ve never worked with patients like this. They have a zest for life, they want to learn and grow! Every aspect of their lives is challenged by Parkinson’s symptoms but they seem to have this inner will to keep going.

Susan Vold, BSN, RN, PHN, BA, HNBC

Optimism Walk

When most people think of Parkinson’s disease, they envision motor symptoms such as tremors or difficulty walking. Non-motor symptoms of PD are often more debilitating and can greatly impact an entire family’s quality of life. Anxiety, depression, apathy, thinking problems and pain are just a few of the non-motor issues that individuals with PD cope with each day. It’s critical for the team to look at the whole picture; Susan and the rest of the neurological team provide a holistic treatment approach that looks at contextual factors in an individual’s life. “People are not just physical beings. They are also social, emotional, mental, spiritual and sexual beings. Stress results when any one of these things is out of balance. Stress can and will increase all PD symptoms.”

Susan is also a board member for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA). Greg Molnar, APDA-MN President, remarked, “Susan Vold has been a treasure of an addition and brings a very important perspective to our board that helps guide us to offer the best possible benefits to the Minnesota Parkinson’s community.” Since 1961 the APDA has raised and invested more than $89 million to fund research, patient services education to elevate public awareness.

The next APDA Minnesota event is the Optimism Walk on Saturday, September 14 in Roseville. Annually, the APDA offers educational conferences, help for support groups, novel exercise programs and direct-to-patient individual grants. The proceeds from the Optimism Walk are mainly kept in Minnesota and will be used towards building a stronger network of offerings.

While there may not be a cure for Parkinson’s yet, advancing research for the disease is critical. The University of Minnesota is a Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s research, focusing on neuromodulation (deep brain stimulation). Neuromodulation is already considered a vital aspect of treating neurodegenerative illnesses. “Many patients actually come to our clinic because they want to be involved in research. They know that the M Physicians providers here have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on in Parkinson’s research and are often the primary investigators of that research,” said Susan.

There are over 25,000 people with Parkinson’s disease in Minnesota alone. M Physicians is asking for your support in raising money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. You can contribute by going to Susan’s ADPA Link.