Get Active to Fight Parkinson’s Disease

 


Exercise is medicine
for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Recent evidence shows that treating people as soon as possible after diagnosis is very effective in improving quality of life, mobility and confidence. However it also has the potential to slow progression of the condition. This is something that, at present, no traditional medication can offer.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson disease affects around 1 in 500 people in the UK with the average onset of the condition at 50 years old. It affects a part of the brain called the substania nigra. Because of nerve cell loss this area it is not able to produce enough of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for regulating movement in the body.

How might it affect me?

To begin with symptoms may be very mild. This is a great time to start exercising. Over time, common physical symptoms include tremor, slow movements and stiff, inflexible muscles. This can affect many aspects of daily life and may lead to a shuffling walking pattern, flexed posture, reduced balance or reduced function in an arm or hand.

What can I do about it? 

Get active as early as you can! See an exercise professional such as a neuro physiotherapist with experience of treating PD. You need to learn what type of exercise to do and develop good, sustainable habits.

You also need to ensure you are on an optimal dose of medication so make sure you see your Consultant, GP or PD Nurse about this. Being on the right medication can help you get the most benefit out of your exercise sessions so this is really important.

Exercise – what is the evidence?

Research has proven that directed physical activity can improve walking ability, hand dexterity, balance, speed of movements and overall fitness levels. One study also found that a specific exercise programme not only reduced symptoms but also indicated that the progression of the disease had slowed down reducing levels of medication required over time. This study also noted that a sedentary lifestyle worsened those symptoms that effect Parkinson disease suffers which then lead to other symptoms such as depression and fatigue.

What is Neurological Physiotherapy or “Neuro Physio”?

Neuro Physio’s are experts in treating clients with neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, and have a clear understanding on how Parkinson’s affects people. Treatment is focused on the individual; to improve their capabilities and to maximise their functional abilities. 

Physiotherapy isn’t easy and should always be a challenge. Your physiotherapist should aim to challenge you to maximise your rehabilitation potential. However tough your therapy may be it should also be fun and rewarding!

Summary

  • Exercise can help you take control of and manage your symptoms.
  • Research suggests that specific exercises can help slow the progression of the disease.
  • The earlier you start exercising the better; but it’s never too late to make a start!
  • Neuro Physios are trained exercise professionals and will be able to assess and guide you on the most suitable exercises to help you maximise your abilities.

For further information see:

Parkinson’s UK – exercising https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/exercise

NHS Choices – Parkinson’s Disease https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists – Parkinson’s disease http://www.csp.org.uk/publications/physiotherapy-works-parkinsons-disease

PD Warrior https://www.pdwarrior.com