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Fit For Life Exercise Newsletter!

This week we are looking at #Parkinson’s Disease and #exercise!


What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder and is classified as a Movement Disorder, as it primarily affects movement. It is variable in its progression, i.e. some people progress more slowly than others and the symptoms can be effectively controlled with medication for many years.


Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of a chemical called dopamine. We all lose some of this chemical as we get older, however it is only when we have lost about 80% of our dopamine that we start to have symptoms. So, people with Parkinson’s have lost this chemical at a faster rate than others.

Dopamine is a chemical that helps instructions from the brain to cross from one nerve cell to the next, enabling controlled movements. ​ This occurs in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra.


Most common motor symptoms are:​

- Tremors​

- A slowness in movement​

- An increase in rigidity (stiffness)


Common non-motor symptoms:​

- Constipation​

- Depression


Freezing:​ Many people with PD will experience freezing at some point. “Freezing” is used to describe the experience of briefly stopping suddenly while walking or when initiating walking and being unable to move forward. People feel as though their feet are stuck to the ground. It also commonly occurs when trying to turn in small spaces or when walking through doorways. If you have trouble starting a movement or when you try to step forward just after you’ve stood up, this is sometimes called ‘start hesitation’. Freezing can also happen with thought. Some people find this when they are trying hard to remember something in particular, for example trying to remember names. Freezing can be most common in times of stress or anxiety. Sensory cues, such as auditory, visual, or touch triggers, are employed to overcome these “Freezing” episodes.​


Irish Research & advances in Parkinson’s management:

1. Beats medical app: is an app developed by an Irish physio that is individualized to the patient and is supplied via an app to their phone. Its uses metronome therapy to help gait and freezing and exercises for speech and language and dexterity therapy. See here for more info.: https://www.beatsmedical.com/index.php/how-it-works/ Please note that we have no connection with this company, we just think it’s a great idea that can help people with Parkinson’s disease!

2. Music and dance therapy: different types of music and dance therapy have been studied for proposed benefits in gait, balance and lower limb strength in people with Parkinson’s disease. Irish researchers are looking into the benefits of Irish trad music and dance, see: https://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993(17)30162-4/fulltext


See Parkinson’s Association of Ireland for more info.: https://parkinsons.ie/index

Week 9 exercise program


Exercises that may be suitable for someone with Parkinson’s Disease will really depend on the person’s functional ability and the progression of their Parkinson’s. It should be individualised and prescribed by a qualified therapist. Please review the range of motion and posture exercises in the previous newsletters too, as those will be important also!

1. Daily aerobic program – the Older Adult should do aerobic exercise (e.g. dancing, walking, cycling) most days of the week, aiming towards the guidelines of 150mins moderate intensity per week.

2. ROM (range of motion) and posture exercises – do on most days, see previous newsletters for examples.

3. Strength training x2 per week – see below for examples of strength exercises. This really will depend on the person’s functional ability and the progression of their Parkinson’s. It should be individualised and prescribed by a qualified therapist.

4. Balance and gait training – should be done a couple of times per week. This really will depend on the person’s functional ability and the progression of their Parkinson’s. It should be individualised and prescribed by a qualified therapist.


https://www.parkinsons.ie/userfiles/file/chart_a3.pdf


Patricia O'Donnell GSR CAT BSc MSc

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