Friedhelm Chmell Parkinson’s nurse specialist from Germany: From anger to vocation

An interview with Friedhelm Chmell Parkinson’s nurse specialist from Germany From anger to vocation on January 9. 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.


Please tell me a little about your background.


I’m married since 1999, 3 kids, nurse since 2003.

I developed severe epilepsy at the age of 19. No therapy, no medication helped. After my 20th grand mal seizure, Christians prayed for me to be healed. Since then, I have not had a single seizure and have not taken any medication for over 25 years. That commonly has changed my life and I felt that God wants me to become a nurse.


Can you tell me more about your organization?



I don’t work in any Parkinson’s organization, but my professional career has developed in this way through working in the Parkinson’s ward at the University Hospital in Tübingen for over 20 years. Here I was able to learn a lot and become the Parkinson’s expert that I am today.


I had the privilege of learning from Parkinson’s specialists such as Prof. Thomas Gasser, Prof. Daniela Berg, Prof. Walter Maetzler and Prof. Daniel Weiss and at the same time had great freedom to apply what I had learned.



After more than 20 years, I will contribute everything I have learned to innovative developments and will be working at Orbit Health in the field of sensor technology and wearables for Parkinson’s patients from February 2024.






What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinsons awareness and hope for a cure?


In the early years, I had great difficulty coping with caring for people with Parkinson’s disease. I lacked all understanding and couldn’t comprehend many things. At challenging times, such as during the night shifts when my nerves were on edge, I was so shocked by my own reactions, my impatience and my anger that I often thought about quitting. It was too hard for me to process everything.


As a Christian, I prayed to Jesus during this time and asked for help. He helped me out of anger and resentment and gave me a love and passion for people in these difficult circumstances.

> My hope for a cure comes from the experience of my own healing and from the promise of the Bible!


What type of goals do individuals with Parkinsons have when working with you?


> Most people with Parkinson’s whom I meet have the goal of finally being able to spend days, weeks or months without having to constantly think about the disease and its symptoms.

> Of course, there are also many people who repeatedly set themselves small goals, such as going for a walk again or taking up a hobby.


What type of training and how long are the programs?


> I am not directly involved in any kind of training or concept. My specialty is identifying the main symptoms and problems in the middle or advanced stages so that I can then give the best possible therapy advice. In this context, I always try to sensitize and train patients and their relatives to distinguish and assess the effect of the therapy themselves.


What events do you participate in?


As a participant and speaker, I take part in congresses such as the WPC (World Parkinson Congress) or the PNDK (Parkinson’s Network Germany Congress). But I also speak frequently in self-help groups or regularly teach at nursing schools to raise awareness of the special features of this disease at an early stage.


How does this also assist the caregivers?


> This shows caregivers that they are not alone and that there are people who are willing and able to put themselves in their shoes.



How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


At the moment I only have my LinkedIn profile and a private Parkinson’s email.






However, I am thinking about creating my own homepage for all those who would like advice from the perspective of a Parkinson’s nurse.


How can others also become advocates for awareness?


By educating yourself to know what you are talking about and by taking an interest in and identifying with those affected.


In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy?


Networking between the individual professional groups, Parkinson’s patients and their relatives. But also appropriate and equal pay in order to promote innovations and implement projects.



How can we better fundraise to support a cure for Parkinsons?


Mobilizing donations is always a challenge. Constant awareness-raising in education, the media, culture and politics is essential.


What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living Eg exercise and alternative remedies?


I am not ill myself. But as a counselor and specialist, I also need stability, support and a firm foundation. As a Christian, I have that in my relationship with Jesus, my family and my church.


Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this?


Because a) it is an ever-increasing disease, which b) is very often wrongly perceived and treated. And because c) you can never know how close this disease can get to you.


Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?




If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life which song would it be?


In Jesus name“ (God of possible) from Katy Nichole


If you had one final statement or quote you Gould leave for the Parkinsons community, what would it be?


Jesus said: ”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“ Matthew 11:28