Now What? Understanding Parkinson's Disease


By 2050, The U.S. population is on track to be double what it was in 2010. Older citizens will be a larger part of the population by mid-century as well.

Correspondingly, the proportion of individuals who are challenged with one or more chronic diseases could increase just as rapidly. For example, the population with Parkinson's disease is projected to increase by 30% between 2010 and 2020 and more than double to 68% between 2010 and 2030.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects neurons in a specific area of the brain. Symptoms generally develop slowly over time and may be different for each person. Some common symptoms may include hand tremors, mainly while at rest, limb stiffness, balance, slow movement, and impaired ability to move the body swiftly on command.

Although there is no cure, treatment options vary and include medications and surgery. The first step to living well with Parkinson’s disease is to understand the disease and the progression. People with Parkinson’s disease have low levels or are missing dopamine in the brain, which can be successfully treated with medication. By the time people first start to experience symptoms, the disease has already progressed to the point where significant amounts of the neurons have been lost or impaired.

In this episode of the award-winning Now What? series, host and Co-producer Dr. Anna Fisher will convene a conversation that educates and informs the audience about what Parkinson’s Disease is, what some of the early signs are, the types of treatments that exist, the stages of progression, and what research is on the horizon.

Panel of Experts

Dr. Anna Fisher serves as the Hillcrest Health Services health, quality, and nursing services education expert. She is responsible for the implementation of educational and quality improvement programs following the identification of clinical needs, competency exams, and supporting the need for high quality of care for diverse business lines that include assisted living, memory support, adult day services, home health care, palliative, hospice, post-acute, and skilled nursing care. 

Dr. Fisher is also an adjunct professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Bellevue University and teaches in the Masters-Health Administration Program. She was awarded the prestigious Maenner Award for Professorship of the Year in 2012. In 2015, she received the APEX Award for Excellence in Health & Medical Writing by Nursing 2015, for an article she co-authored entitled, "Best Practices for Engaging Patients with Dementia."

Dr. Fisher is co-producer of the NET Connects series, Now What?, about elder care and dementia. The program series received a 2014 Nebraska Broadcasters Association Silver Award in the Service to Community category and a 2012 Nebraska Broadcasters Association Bronze Award of Excellence in the category of Service to Community.

Dr. Fisher is currently President of the Consortium of Dementia Alternatives and Vice President of the Montessori International School of the Plains. She is a certified dementia practitioner, licensed nurse, and holds an undergraduate degree in human resources, graduate degree in business management, and a doctorate in health administration.


Dr. Michele Faulkner is a Professor at Creighton University in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and the School of Medicine in the department of Neurology.  After graduating from Creighton University with a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree, she moved to San Antonio, Texas and completed a post-graduate residency.  She returned to Omaha to accept a faculty position at Creighton in 1998.  She has published over 45 manuscripts in medical journals, and has written several textbook chapters.  She also presents frequently to national audiences about the pharmacologic approach to the treatment of neurological disorders. 

Dr. Faulkner is the former Chairman of the Board of the Nebraska chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association, and currently serves on the Board of Parkinson's Nebraska.  She is a former member of the Nebraska Stroke Advisory Council. Currently, she serves as a representative from the state of Nebraska to the House of Delegates of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.


Dr. Melinda Burnett is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska.

Dr. Burnett graduated from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.  During medical school, she spent an additional year completing a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship.  She then did her medical internship and neurology residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where she served as chief resident.  After her movement disorders fellowship at Mayo, she did a movement disorders research fellowship at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital in Brisbane, Australia.  After training, she worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and in the Mayo Clinic Health System before moving to Omaha and joining the Immanuel Neurological Institute in December 2017. 

Dr. Burnett is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology.  Clinical and research interests include the epidemiology and phenomenology of Parkinson’s disease, the neurophysiology of movement disorders, diagnosis and treatment of functional movement disorders, vascular and other forms of atypical parkinsonism, and physician burnout.


Dan Lombardo worked in the Outdoor Advertising Business for 30 years before being diagnosed with Parkinson's. Since then, he has retired but still keeps active. He is a board Member with Parkinson's Nebraska, a non-profit Organization that is dedicated to bringing the Parkinson's community together through education, sponsoring exercise programs and much more.

Dan works out at the gym almost every day, because that is what the doctor ordered. He has also participated in several research studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and plans on doing more in the near future.