Pilates Training for Parkinson’s disease Management
Exercise is a powerful therapeutic intervention for movement and coordination disorders.
Although the neuroscience of exercises and its use for rehabilitation for Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders is still in its relative infancy, here are already a few very convincing reasons why you should be trying some exercises.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. It destroys neurons in our brain, especially neurons that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring substance in our brain which regulates movement, balance and walking. Parkinson’s is classified as a movement disorder meaning it leads to loss of motor function. Parkinson’s is almost as common as Alzheimer’s.
It is not clear why the dopamine producing neurons deteriorate. It is suspected that the loss is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
6 million worldwide, 1.5 million people in USA and more than 100.000 (1 in 3) in Canada are affected, 11.000 people alone in BC. There are about 60.000 new cases diagnosed per year in the USA and Canada. But this disease also affects the rest of the family as well, as often they are the caregivers. It affects men and women, most commonly around the age of 60, although more people are being diagnosed at a younger age.
Most common symptoms:
Slow movement, rigid and stiff
Episodes of freezing
Slow and shuffling gait with steps getting smaller and smaller whilst walking.
Resting tremor or dyskinesia which is involuntary movement
Decreased dexterity, i.e. clumsiness
Writing gets smaller
Loss of balance
Some other associated symptoms
Depression, apathy and anxiety
Dry eyes, sweating, drooling
Muscle and joint pain
Sleep disturbance, nightmares
At present there is no known cure for Parkinson’s, the only clinically proven way to slow this progressive disease down is to exercise especially when combined with Parkinson’s medication.
Exercise in general can improve function and posture, increase aerobic capacity, strength, balance, decrease depression and improve quality of life. Recent research suggest that exercise can reverse motor symptoms AND “change” the brain. The ability of the brain to change or reorganize itself after disease or injury is called neuroplasticity. When this change is triggered by exercise it is called activity-dependant neuroplasticity. Specifically, exercise helps to stimulate the production of dopamine. As mentioned before, dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is needed to regulate movement, balance and walking.
On a more cellular level exercise reduces inflammation, encourages you to breathe, improve oxygenation of the tissues and have more oxygen flow through your blood vessels. On an emotional level exercise provides hope, social contact, is empowering, fun and positive. It challenges your brain.
Staying inactive is pro- degenerative!
For it to be effective, exercise needs to be frequent, intensive and target the specific problems to the disease.
Pilates exercises are the most efficient multi purpose exercises, meeting the needs of the body, mind and spirit. They are easily modified to suit the varying needs of the Parkinson’s client, yet the principles of Pilates never change and are easily integrated into our work: alignment, breathing, core work, balance, coordination, control, flow of movement and FUN!
Here at Trimetrics our classes are always a mix of partner and individual work, seated, standing, mat, chair, reformer and tower work. We offer some cardio work with our treadmill and the jumping boards on the reformer. We apply a variety of strategies from the original Pilates program, the Body Control Pilates program, the Fletcher Towel works and of course the PWR (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery) program. This ensures a fun and varied program offering functional movement for the varying needs of all our Parkinson’s clients. We embed the work of Dr Becky Farley, a world expert in the area of Parkinson’s management. Her work and research is is dedicated to the principals of early intervention, enrichment, education and empowerment of those living with Parkinson’s disease
.Dr Farley’s website is : http://www.pwr4life.org
At Trimetrics we run two groups per week: Mondays at 11.30 and Thursdays at 1.30. We also offer sessions for private clients who prefer to work out by themselves or who need to have a more flexible schedule.
For more information, please contact Susie Higgins at the clinic [email protected]