I have developed a program to counteract the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Working hands-on with clients, I have found that stimulating them to re-learn their impaired motor skills results in decreased symptoms of the disease.
I have compelling results that show some patients who do exercises on my plan either stop the progression of symptoms, or even show improvement when tested by a neurologist.
My hypothesis is that exercises which target the impaired movements for Parkinson's patients appear to stimulate the brain to form new neurological pathways around its damaged areas. The brain and body appear to be adapting and finding new ways of moving. And with encouragement and feedback, patients are more mindful of controlling their movements. This concept is known as neuroplasticity, and you can read more about it here.
While there is no cure for Parkinson's, medications and exercise can work together to manage the disease. In combination with drugs which add dopamine to the brain, exercise gives patients an additional tool to improve their quality of life.
My goal is to restore functionality and range of motion for patients so they can avoid falling and return to daily activities that they enjoy. I implement fun and interactive exercises which improve not only adherence to my program, but also the patient’s mood.
These are my goals to improve the specific motor skills that have been affected by Parkinson’s:
Parkinson’s patients are often given a series of therapy exercises by neurologists which involve moving the body in broad ways to improve tightness. I take this approach one step further, asking clients to get creative and make their own movements. Or I have clients act out an emotion by expressing it with full-body gestures, similar to modern dance. I want clients to empower themselves with expressive movements in a large range of motion.
For patients with stooped posture, I teach correct posture and to be mindful of holding a more upright torso and head. I use a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises for muscles used to achieve correct posture.
I use a variety of passive and active stretching techniques, while encouraging patients to relax, breathe, and let go of tight muscles. Yoga poses are also helpful in giving clients control over their movements and find mental calmness while stretching.
For patients who are showing symptoms of slow movement, I do drills like throwing and catching balls to improve hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and reaction times. Advanced patients are able to play catch with two balls in the air simultaneously, similar to juggling.
I teach clients to be aware of the space around them. This nurtures better balance skills by activating mind-body adjustments to prevent falling. Many exercises are performed on one leg or by doing exercises on balls or other unstable surfaces.
I work with patients to improve their gate which may have shortened. I encourage clients to take longer strides, land on their heels, and swing their arms naturally. I may use obstacles on the floor to encourage clients to lift their legs to avoid tripping.
Each session, I introduce new movements that the patient has never done before. I like giving clients a mind-body puzzle to solve. I also give patients complex exercises with multiple parts, and ask them to execute the movements in proper sequence and rhythm.
Research shows that more intense exercise produces the best results. So unlike traditional Parkinson's exercise plans which may have patients seated or holding the backs of chairs, I ask clients to stand on their feet to hone their balance skills.
I find that patients who begin exercising soon after they are diagnosed with Parkinson’s will benefit the most. But I believe patients at any stage of the disease can manage their symptoms and regain control of their movements.
I invite you to contact me to discuss your needs with Parkinson's therapy exercise.
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder which hinders normal, controlled movement. The disease is caused by damage to nerve cells (neurons) that produce dopamine in a deep area of the brain. Dopamine is a chemical transmitter which sends signals to coordinate movements.
Parkinson's is diagnosed by observing the physical symptoms that arise from the damage to the neurons and reduction of dopamine. By the time a patient is aware of the physical symptoms, it is estimated that 60-80 percent of the neurons have been damaged.
The symptoms of PD include:
3525 Connecticut Avenue NW
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I can travel to your home or office gym to make exercising as convenient as possible. To supplement the equipment you have, I'll provide stability balls, resistance tubing, and light dumbbells.