Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

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Specific Exercise Affects Parkinson’s Disease

Research Proves Physical Exercise not only can improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but also slow down the rate of disease progression.

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 substantia nigra. Because of nerve cell loss this area it is not able to produce enough of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for regulating the movement of the body.

How might it affect me?

People who have Parkinson’s disease may experience involuntary shaking of particular body parts called a ‘tremor’, slow movements and/or stiff and inflexible muscles. In addition, some people may also suffer from balance problems, memory problems, loss of sense of smell, insomnia and depression. 

What can I do about it? 

People with Parkinson’s are often prescribed medication and it is important that this is reviewed regularly by your designated medical professional. 

Research has proven that with directed physical activity suffers of Parkinson’s Disease have shown to improve their walking ability, improve the dexterity of their hands, improve their balance, increase the speed of movements and improve their overall fitness levels. 

One study also found that those people with Parkinson’s disease who followed a specific “neuroactive” exercise programme not only improved on the factors above they also showed signs, neurologically, 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.

Neurological Physiotherapy or “Neuro Physio”?

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

Therapy includes specifically designed treatments and exercises that do not only work the muscles and joints but the aim to make neurological changes that can help slow down the rate of the disease progression and make new connections through learning specific tasks, called neuroplasticity. 

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

Summary

  • Exercise in Parkinson’s can help you take control and manage your symptoms.
  • Regular exercise can help you improve your balance, your flexibility, your strength, your fitness and your coordination. It can also help with your sleep patterns and your mental health. 
  • Research suggests that specific “neuroactive” exercises can help slow the progression of the disease.
  • Specialist Neuro Physio 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 – https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/exercise

PD Warrior – www.pdwarrior.com

NHS Choices –  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/

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