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Exercise for Parkinson’s

Becky Wade from the Better Body Group provides advice on how to exercise with Parkinson’s disease.

Around 1 in 500 people are thought to be living with Parkinson’s disease, but what is it? How do we spot the symptoms of Parkinson’s and what are the treatment methods we can provide here at the Better Body Group to help slow down its progression?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder, meaning it has an effect on your nervous system which affects your ability to control movements. Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of the brain cells responsible for producing dopamine, acting as a messenger between the brain and nervous system that coordinate body movements.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Symptoms are more common in people over the age of 50 years old but there are cases where people first experience symptoms under the age of 40 years. Men are slightly more likely to be affected than women.

Symptoms associated with Parkinson’s generally affect our movement and motor system, leading to an increase in the inability to perform certain everyday tasks. They usually develop over a few years and can affect everybody differently.

Here are the most common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease:

• Tremors: shaking in your hands and arms, can also often occur in your jaw or foot and will usually affect one side of your body. The shaking can worsen when stressed and often disappears during sleep or during movement in the affected limb.

• Affected gait and posture: you may find that you drag your feet when you walk, again usually only one side is affected. This is also known as a dropped gait. Your arms will not swing naturally as you walk and you may tend to have a slight forward lean posture. You will also notice the slowing down of movement, whether that be when walking or doing everyday tasks at home that require coordination or balance.

• Muscular stiffness: Your muscles can become stiff through uncontrolled tensing. Aches and pains may occur affecting your range of motion.

Exercise and Parkinson:
There is no current cure for Parkinson’s. As a rehabilitator we need to find a way to help manage symptoms, slow down the progression and help you feel better.
Research has shown that exercise is vital for maintaining balance, mobility and muscular strength, improving gait and non-motor deficits. Meaning exercise based rehab is a no brainer!

Exercise based rehabilitation has many focus points when it comes to training people with Parkinson’s; the main goals will include improving strength, mobility, balance, coordination and posture. Research has shown that Motor Rehabilitation and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) training may delay Parkinson’s progression.

BDNF belongs to neurotrophins, a family of proteins that support the function of the central nervous system. The protein helps to build and maintain the brain signals and allows them to travel efficiently. This helps to maintain the life of your brain cells, as well as grow new ones. Basically the more BDNF in the brain, the better the brain works.

So how do we increase BDNF?
You guessed it, through exercise! We need to get our blood pumping and our brains stimulated in the form of skill-based exercise. This will get the new brain cells creating new signals with each other, which are also related to the decrease in motor symptoms, risk of falls, balance, gait improvement and quality of life.

When it comes to Parkinson’s, there is no one size fits all. The type of training requires individual programming to accommodate specific needs, so speak to one of our rehab specialises to see how they can assist you with your condition.

• If you would like to be booked in for an initial assessment with someone from our rehab team then contact us on 01732 451979 or e-mail info@completerehab.co.uk.



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