Interest being gauged for Parkinson’s support group in Steamboat

Matt Stensland
Dr. Ralph Dittman

— A part-time Steamboat Springs resident who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for 14 years is seeking people who would be interested in participating in a support group.

“What we’re doing is taking a head count to see how many people are interested,” Dr. Ralph Dittman said. “If they are interested, they need to raise their hands now.”

Dittman, who splits his time between Steamboat and Houston, was a surgeon before Parkinson’s came into his life at age 51.

The disease causes certain cells in the brain to become inactive, causing loss of motor functions and some neurologic functions. Notable Parkinson’s sufferers include Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox.

The disease did not allow Dittman to be a surgeon anymore, so for the past eight years, he has been working in the laboratory and has become a renowned stem cell researcher and has published several novels.

Dittman thinks there are people in the community who could benefit greatly from a Parkinson’s support group, especially those who take care of people suffering from the disease.

“They’re the people that take the real brunt of this thing,” Dittman said. “They’re the ones that really need the help.”

He said that to form the group, he needs to find at least 20 people who want to participate.

“You do not have to have Parkinson’s to be a member of this support group,” Dittman said.

He said the group would decide its own agenda, but he has identified a guiding goal: “To provide a forum in which we may trade experiences, impressions and solutions to problems as well as to give hope and encouragement to our fellow man/woman as we face this chronic adversary known as Parkinson’s disease.”

People interested in the group can contact Dittman by emailing

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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