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Episode 12: What We’ve Learned from the Hispanic Parkinson’s Community

When you have a chronic, progressive condition like Parkinson’s disease, there is always something new to learn. But access to information and resources about Parkinson’s varies for individuals and communities. Dr. Claudia Martinez, the Hispanic outreach coordinator at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, describes the methods she uses to help Hispanic people with Parkinson’s get the best possible care. She also talks about Parkinson’s programs that are available to Spanish speakers in Phoenix, across the United States, and around the world.

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Claudia Martinez, MD

Claudia Martinez graduated as a primary care physician in her native Colombia, where she practiced in underserved communities. After she moved to Arizona, she completed a graduate certificate in gerontology at Arizona State University. In 2007, with the support of a Parkinson’s Foundation grant, she started the Hispanic Outreach Program at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center (MAPC). Since then she has developed a comprehensive and culturally sensitive program for Hispanic families living with PD that is currently recognized as the largest in the country.

In the last four years, Dr. Martinez has expanded the MAPC Hispanic Outreach program overseas. She has developed a strong international network by delivering ongoing PD-specific educational webinars. Currently, the network includes support groups, individuals and organizations from 16 Spanish-speaking countries. In 2016 Dr. Martinez was invited to join the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) Communications Committee to represent the Spanish-speaking PD community worldwide and to present at the WPC Leadership Forum.

In addition to her work with the Hispanic community, Dr. Martinez coordinates the MAPC expressive art workshops for people with PD and their caregivers. She was also instrumental in the launching of a PD awareness tool that uses the power of music: the song written by songwriter and singer Jose Maria Lobo, “I am the beat of another song.” A recognized artist herself, Dr. Martinez is passionate about combining her creative personality with her impactful works in the PD community.

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