An interview with Indira Subramanian: Living well with PD- the importance of having agency over your lifestyle choices in PD on November 18, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
I received my medical degree from the University of Toronto, Canada. I did my neurology residency and Movement Disorders fellowship training at UCLA. I stayed at UCLA and am now a Clinical Professor of Neurology. I am the Director of the Southwest PADRECC (Parkinson Disease Research, Education and Clinical Care) Center of Excellence in Parkinson Disease. I have developed a strong interest in integrative medicine with a special interest in Yoga and Mindfulness. I underwent a 200-hour yoga teacher training and studied mindfulness at the VA through Insight LA. I got board certified in Integrative medicine. I am also passionate about palliative care in Parkinson Disease. I did a contemplative fellowship for health care providers through the New York Zen Center and was an AAN Palatucci Fellow and a graduate of the Transforming Leaders Program at the AAN. I am the co-chair of the Wellness Task Force at the Movement Disorders Society and the chair of the Movement Disorders Section at the AAN. My main research interest is on the effects of loneliness on people living with PD.
Please tell me a little about your background.
I was born in India and moved to Canada when I was 2 and then moved to the US after med school. I have 3 boys- ages 22, 19 and 15. We love to travel and listen to live music.
Can you tell me more about your organization?
I work at UCLA. The VA is a place for care of veterans with PD.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
I love taking care of PWP- it was my favorite diagnosis in residency. I love neurology and the brain is cool. I love PWP and their care partners since I feel that PD is very treatable, and I have a lot to offer to help with Quality of life. I love getting to know people over a long time and seeing them back in follow up.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?
Improve QOL (Quality of life) – be seen and heard.
What type of training and how long are the programs?
I believe in wellness- lifestyle choices- including exercise, diet, sleep, mind body approaches, and social connection. Helping people to find meaning/ purpose.
What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
It can be very transformational.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?
I would like to see our wellness prescription be discussed and tailored to every PWP (People with Parkinson’s) worldwide, from diagnosis.
What events do you participate in?
Many- MDS, AAN, WPC
How does this also assist the caregivers?
Wellness approaches are also about supporting the care partner.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
I don’t have one really. Just follow me on twitter or X
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Get educated and join a vetted group like the PD avengers etc.
In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy?
Clear messaging, knowing your audience, being very clear about the end goal- what are your exact goals.
Not re-inventing the wheel- partnering and breaking down silos.
What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living Eg exercise and alternative remedies?
Social connection, keeping inspired by great books especially in the spiritual realm, live music, travel with curiosity.
- try to sleep, eat right, exercise.
- yoga/ meditation
- above all breath is key
Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this?
Helping others helps 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?
What a wonderful world. Luis Armstrong.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Social connection is the buffer for all badness- find a friend with whom to share your joys and sorrows.