By John Lauritsen

By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Finding out that you have Parkinson’s Disease is a life-changing moment.

Many people find they are no longer able to do many of things that used to come easy. But thanks to a video game console, a Plymouth man is determined not to let that happen- and he wants others to follow his lead.

Mike Justak is an excellent boxer, an excellent ski jumper, and he does it all as someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“I was really surprised. You don’t think of video games as being ‘healthful,’” Justak said.

A while back, Justak learned the Nintendo Wii system worked well with his Parkinson’s. It is something Dr. Martha Nance of Struthers Parkinson’s Center encourages all her patients to use.

“The more you move, you keep those pathways open. You keep the cells functioning better and the brain cells are actually healthier at the end of it,” Nance said.

Justak wanted other Parkinson’s patients to experience what he was experiencing. And one day he crossed paths with Micki Donovan, a single mother diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Through his non-profit group, he gave Donovan her very own Wii system Friday and got her started on ‘Wii-hab.’

“I talked to Mike and he said, ‘I can get you hooked up,’ and it was an answer to my prayers,” Donovan said. “It was really incredible to come in here today and see it set up.”

Mike plans on giving Wii systems to other patients as well through his non-profit group Partnerships for Parkinson’s.

To check out Partnerships for Parkinson’s website, click here.

Comments (4)
  1. Ruth L. Lotzer says:

    Great Job Mike! You are doing so many great things in the name of Parkinson’s. I admire your attitude and drive to beat this disease! I am so proud to know you! Ruth

    WCCO thank you for airing the story about the Wii and Parkinsons. As a young person with Parkisons’s I appreciate your help in speading the news of how this disease affects people of all ages. Awareness brings us closer to the cure!

    Sincerely, Ruth Lotzer

    1. Sandra says:

      Hi MIke,
      Great story about using Wii on WCCO to help exercise the brain and body movement. How can my friend receive the Wii to help with her daily challenges with Parkinson’s disease?

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