Three and a half years ago, retired attorney Terri Brennan couldn’t figure out why her left arm was stiff. Eventually doctors determined she had Parkinson’s Disease, a nervous system disorder that affects movement and coordination, and sometimes causes tremors.

“I was relieved,” said Brennan. “I was just glad to know it had a name and that I could address it.”

Since Brennan’s diagnosis, one of the ways she fights her disease is attending exercise sessions at the Greater St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association in Chesterfield.

“The exercises make a big difference,” said Brennan.

About a month ago, the St. Louis Parkinson chapter became a national trailblazer by live streaming its exercise sessions. A donor provided the funds to purchase robotic cameras, wireless microphones, and computer gear. Now anyone can watch the exercise sessions live, or tune in whenever it’s convenient on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

“I think that’s wonderful,” said Brennan. “Not only do they live stream it, but they archive it so you can watch it later.”

As word spreads about the live streaming, so does its impact.

“Really throughout the country,” said Executive Director Debbie Guyer. “We have someone in California who’s tuning into our classes as well. If they have a laptop or a desk top, or an iPad, all they need is internet and they can hook in and take advantage of our live streaming or the archived classes. We’re the trailblazers for the American Parkinson Disease Association.”

The association recommends that participants attend classes in person as much as possible, then participate in a live streamed or archived class when they can’t attend. Not everyone can attend in person, whether it’s because of distance or complications from the disease.

“We know that unless you’re fortunate enough to live right down the street from where we are that most people can only get to one or two classes at most,” said Tricia Creel, the wellness program coordinator who leads the exercise sessions.

Creel said exercise is essential for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

“Your walking is better. Your coordination is better. Your balance is better, your flexibility is better, your posture is better,” said Creel.

For more information on Parkinson’s Disease exercise classes, www.stlapda.org.

Creed recommends that participants attend classes in person as much as possible, then participate in a live streamed or archived class on days when they can’t attend a class.