Fun Summer Exercises for Young Students with Movement Disorders

When people think of the various movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, they usually envision an elderly man or woman. After all, Parkinson’s is mostly common among people over the age of 50. However, young “college-aged” people—those roughly between 21 and 29—can get diagnosed with the movement disorder at their ages too.  While those with “young onset” Parkinson’s disease typically have a slower progression of the disease because they’re generally in a healthier state, young people can be active in slowing the progression and reducing the impact of PD symptoms through regular physical exercise. As an article on the website of the National Young Onset Center of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) begins “The one of the most powerful tools….with which to fight PD and its degenerative nature.”

Not all exercise needs to be done within the confinements of a campus gym. To learn a few physical activities that can benefit you this summer, continue reading below.

Swimming

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first—a dip in the pool can help relieve you from the sun’s rays this summer, but it can also help relieve you of some of your movement disorder symptoms. Plus it’s free if you have access to a neighborhood pool or are fortunate to have one in your backyard. The true key to getting the most out of your swim however is periodically changing your strokes, speed, and opening and closing your eyes. This will not only help challenge and strengthen your motor skills, but this kind of physical activity can also increase your heart rate much quicker and help condition your lungs. Remember that sticking to lap swimming alone is not recommended because it forces you to be somewhat automated, which isn’t good for your condition.

Zumba

This Latin fitness dance craze can be found in just about every gym across America, but if you want to reap the health benefits while enjoying some fresh air, there are hundreds of instructors who teach their Zumba lessons outdoors at local parks. Do a little Internet searching and you’re likely to find one near you. Zumba is beneficial because it changes both tempo and direction, which is a type of exercise you need to properly enhance your motor skills. Warning: it can be a tad bit vigorous for some, but you don’t need to work at the same pace as other students.

Beach Volleyball

Last but not least is playing recreational beach volleyball. Like the other two forms of physical activity mentioned above, playing a light game of volleyball can help move and stretch various muscles in your body since it requires you to move around quite a bit.  Volleyball also helps with balance and adjustment. So the next time you take a trip to the beach, get in a game or two.

College Students with Parkinson's disease playing Volleyball

 

About the Author
Nadia Jones is an education blogger for onlinecollege.org. She enjoys writing on topics of education reform, education news, and online learning platforms. Outside of the blogging world, Nadia volunteers her time at an after school program for a local middle school and plays pitcher for her adult softball team. She welcomes your comments and questions at nadia.jones5@gamail.com.

 

 

 

Using Video Games as Parkinson’s Therapy

Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. Movement heavy game systems, like the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360 Kinect, are the newest therapy treatment for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. But how do you go from bopping bad guys to therapy? Well…

The Wii is the first game system designed to make you move. With a movement sensitive remote control and active games, it can do almost anything. Additional parts, like a balance board and even a ‘skateboard’ can help PD sufferers with essential balance therapy.

The Xbox Kinect system is a good match for therapy for several reasons. It does not require the use of a remote, which is great news for those with trouble gripping. Instead, the Kinect uses your body as the remote, reading your movements and translating them onto the game screen.

But why go to all this effort? What’s wrong with traditional physical therapy? Well, for some it is simply too expensive. In this economy, with all the insurance issues, some people cannot afford traditional therapy. At least not as often as they need it. Also, transportation is an issue for some patients. So, why not offer a solution that they can do right in their own home.

Not only do video games allow patients to get therapy in their homes whenever they want, the games also encourage them to do more therapy then they would normally. Incentives such as points, stars, and levels help patients see what they are accomplishing, and the extended range of motion comes along with the added points.

At the University of California, researchers noted these improvements in the participants of their study. After 12 weeks of exercising with the assistance of video games, patients reported gains across several ranges of mobility:

  • 65% had longer strides
  • 55% had increased gait velocity
  • 55% reported improved balance

Patients also reported that they completed the exercises more frequently because they enjoyed the activities and perceived improvements to their health.

“The games require visual perception, eye-hand coordination, figure-ground relationships and sequenced movement, so it’s a huge treatment tool from an occupational therapy perspective,” says Dr. Herz, of the Medical College of Georgia.

The mental stimulation of video games cannot be ignored either.

Author and game designer Jane McGonigal believes that video games offer many benefits. She believes that “gaming is…one of the most productive ways we can spend time.” Her 2011 book “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” declares that games do a better job of provoking positive emotions, leading to achievement and positive reinforcement. McGonigal goes so far to prescribe an hour of gaming per day.

Keeping your mind and body active are the major obstacles confronting movement disorder sufferers. Video games might just offer a solution for that.

 

About the Author:

Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing business internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to: katecroston.croston09@gmail.com.

 

Cycling away Parkinson’s tremors

Theracycle 200

If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s disease, I hope you’ve read our
eBook A New Therapy Brings Hope & Results to People with Parkinson’s Disease.

As a follow-on to that hopeful eBook, in February, we posted the first (of several to follow) personal accounts of people living with Parkinson’s Disease — the story of Dave Davenport.

Dave’s story and those of five others who’ve been riding a Theracycle and seeking substantial reductions in their PD symptoms are included in our newest eBook titled “First-person accounts of people now living better with Parkinson’s disease.”

If you’re interested in getting a copy of our “Living better with Parkinson’s disease” eBook, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you one: pr@exercycle.com

From that eBook, here’s a first-person account from Deb Snow of Wisconsin, who was diagnosed with PD 5 years ago, but who tells us riding her Theracycle has helped her to “do everything I used to do.”

Read on for Deb’s story…

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Tai Chi for Parkinson’s Disease

Discontent with drug treatments and Deep Brain Stimulation approaches, many people living with Parkinson’s disease are exploring and pursuing a wide range of therapies to improve their symptoms.

While The Theracycle Blog has extensively detailed how a “Forced Exercise” regimen of riding a Theracycle has benefited PD patients, worldwide—we think it’s important for our blog to cover other alternative therapies…

Dr. Patrick Massey, MD, PhD— an Illinois-based physician is a practitioner of advanced medical and physical therapies that combine what he describes as “the best of traditional and non-traditional medicine.”

Medical director of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network, Dr. Massey runs ALT-MED, a helpful website with a patient-focused approach with useful information and resources.

Here’s a recent article from Dr. Massey with his professional opinion on how “Parkinson’s patients could benefit from tai chi”…

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Jim Wong: “How I Survived 18 Years of PD”

Californian Jim Wong was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 42. Since his diagnosis he’s been a tireless champion for others with PD –someone we truly admire.

Educated as a bio-scientist at Princeton and Yale, Jim’s the past President of the California Parkinson’s Group, whom The Theracycle Blog has applauded in previous posts for its initiatives in PD dialogue, advocacy, education, and clinical participation.

Jim will be 61 in 2012, here’s his thoughts on how he survived 18 years of PD so far, with his recommendations for the  “Top 10 Things to do if you think you might have Parkinson’s, in chronological order”

Published originally on the Parkinson’s Movement Health Unlocked Blogsite in his article “How I survived 18 years of PD so far,” here (courtesy of Jim Wong) is his hard-won advice…. Take heed!

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Top 10 Things to do if you think you might have Parkinson’s, in chronological order



By Jim Wong

1. Get every insurance policy you can (Life, Disability, Long-term care)

At the moment you are diagnosed, you lose all chance of getting more coverage.

2. Find a Movement Disorders Specialist 

You need an expert- not just your primary MD or a neurologist.

3. Optimize your living and working conditions for your best performance and safety 
An Occupational Therapist or Social Worker can survey your environment.

4. Find a local Support Group that suits you 

It helps to be with people who are walking in your shoes.

5. Participate in clinical trials 

I take 7000 pills a year, because people stepped up to test them. Pay this forward.

6. Keep a positive attitude 
Exercise, exercise, exercise – physical and mental;
Use it or lose it.

7. Tell people about your condition 
Don’t suffer alone in silence; Accept help when you need it.

8. Don’t work too long 

You will certainly do this.

9. Don’t drive too long 

You will certainly do this too.

10. Stay educated about the latest Parkinson’s research & therapies 

Everything is on the Internet, somewhere.
Knowledge is power and hope, day by day

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Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and other Parkinson’s Summits to Conquer

One of the blogs on our blogroll is “About Parkinson’s Disease” — an online destination we stop by from time to time. Operated by Robert Rodgers, Ph.D –who launched Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease back in 2005, this blog highlights five years of continuous interviews with people who have Parkinson’s Disease and which reveal there are many therapies that help people reverse symptoms.

Robert was inspired in his mission by the experience of his own mother who lost her battle with Parkinson’s in 1998.  Since then Robert is on a daily path to search for natural therapies that are safe and cause no harmful side effects. As he puts it: “I hold the belief that the body knows how to heal itself. It just needs a little help remembering how.”

While I highly recommend you check out Robert’s book “Road to Recovery From Parkinson’s Disease”, and read the variety of posts on his excellent About Parkinson’s Disease blog, one of his many interviews with PD people stands out for me….

Nan Little’s 2011 description of the adventure she and her husband experienced climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with a group including climbers with Parkinson’s disease and others with multiple sclerosis inspired us to republish it here on our blog.

Many have written about their path through Parkinson’s– Nan Little’s led to the summit of the tallest mountain in Africa and her encouraging words:
“You don’t have to climb Kilimanjaro to be empowered…you can just get on a bike to experience freedom from some symptoms.”

Here from Robert Rogers’ blog is  Nan Little’s memoir of her inspiring trip to the summit and beyond…

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Jeff Jennings: “Despite Parkinson’s – what you can believe, you can achieve”

The ruggedly handsome man you see here is 51 year old Jeff Jennings of Greenville, South Carolina. While Jeff played football in college and competed in distance running (including the NYC Marathon in 1986), his life changed in 1996 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 35.

Since then, as Jeff describes his life— he’s been living on “PST (Parkinsons Standard Time).” While a PD diagnosis might discourage some people— not Jeff!

Today Jeff’s one of of the most prolific and inspirational Parkinson’s bloggers on the Web. Jeff describes blogging as ” great therapy to be able to expose some vulnerabilities, face fears and perhaps bare your soul to good friends, as well as perfect strangers.”

Jeff’s articles cover the broad canvas of his life and chronicle his light-hearted look at a life with Parkinson’s and occasional musings on “How do I live with this disease?”

Reading Jeff’s blog — I’m impressed with his strong spirit, his refusal to be prideful, and his constant optimism to triumph in the midst of adversity including his past adventure of DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery.

Jeff has written “for exercise therapy to work, there going to be those times (probably many) when a good ration of self discipline will be make all the difference.” He also comments that the mental issues are tougher than the physical ones.

Honoring Jeff’s fighting spirit, the Theracycle Blog is proud to publish this article, written and contributed by Jeff Jennings, titled:

Visualization – The Power To See A Successful Outcome

 

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New Parkinson’s Disease Therapy eBook

As you may know, The Theracycle is a motorized therapy bicycle uniquely designed for individuals with PD (and other movement disorders). Because the Theracycle is motorized, it allows individuals to easily maintain the consistent pedaling cadence of forced exercise therapy.

Research has shown that a therapy of assisted high-cadence cycling, referred to as “forced exercise,” significantly reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

We’ve written and published an eBook that provides an overview of the Cleveland Clinic’s findings on forced exercise, as well as commentary from doctors and therapists about the therapy and their experiences.

This new eBook is titled:
A New Therapy Brings Hope & Results to People with Parkinson’s Disease

Click here to register and download our eBook to learn more about forced exercise or to share what you’ve learned with your doctor.

First-person accounts of people now living better with Parkinson’s disease.

From time to time the Theracycle team sends out articles and materials that we think may be informative and helpful. Recently, we created a new eBook titled “First-person accounts of people now living better with Parkinson’s disease.”

This new eBook details the personal stories of five people with Parkinson’s who’ve been riding a Theracycle and are experiencing the benefits of exercising on their Theracycle. They’re not only seeing substantial reductions in symptoms, but also improving their quality of life.

If you’re interested in getting a copy of the eBook, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you one: pr@exercycle.com

In the meantime, for a preview of the eBook click here to read the personal story of one of the 5 people profiled: Dave Davenport

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Value of Massage for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease, which is also referred to as Parkinsonism is a disorder of the central nervous system, which progressively degenerates over time. In addition to its degeneration of the motor skills, Parkinson’s disease also causes rigidity of the muscles and stiffness of the body.

Tremors, slow movements, rigidity, poor balance, and difficulty in walking accompany this disease. Medications have been known to control some of the symptoms of the disease but many specialists believe that massage therapy aids patients afflicted with the disease. As such, massage therapy has been highly recommended and many patients have benefited from the positive effects of the treatment. There are many ways in which massage therapy has been found to be useful and are mentioned below.

Benefits of massage therapy for people with Parkinson’s

1. Reduction in muscle rigidity

When the brain’s production of dopamine is diminished, motor system nerves are unable to control the body coordination and movements. Massage therapy therefore becomes a natural choice for alleviating the muscle stiffness and rigidity. It is considered safe bodywork as long as the patient feels sensations on the area being massaged. A study titled “Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms are Reduced by Massage Therapy and Progressive Muscle Exercises,” conducted by researchers from the University of Miami and Duke University has revealed that Parkinson’s patients that were given 15 minutes of massage in the prone position and 15 minutes in the supine position showed marked improvement in the functioning of the degenerative spots. With massage therapy, stiffness and rigidity of the muscles are reduced as the nerves begin to relax.

2. Improved blood circulation

Whether for Parkinson’s disease or for any ‘normal’ stiffness of the body, massage has been found to be beneficial for tired muscles. When massage therapy is given to Parkinson’s patients, there is lessening of muscle tension, which helps blood vessels to dilate, and enhances the circulation of blood in the body. The improved blood circulation in the body helps to calm the nervous system, which in turn brings down the tremors evident in such patients.

3. Improved sleep pattern

Many Parkinson’s disease patients have poor sleeping patterns and this in turn affects them physically. Since massage therapy improves blood circulation and reduces muscular tension, this can often allow patients to sleep better. Massage can enable a restful sleep up to 10 hours and there is no wakefulness or restlessness during sleep. With proper sleep and rest the patient suffers less from the effects of the disease.

4. Improved physical stamina

As a brief from the National Parkinson Foundation titled “Massage Therapy: Is it for you?” suggests: one of the specific benefits that massage therapy can deliver for PD patients is an “increase in daily stamina.” As with some of the other aforementioned benefits, increased stamina can have a trickle down positive impact on other patient symptoms including an improved ability to exercise on a regular basis, which in turn will deliver other benefits such as mental and physical relaxation.

5. Confidence of the patient

Massage therapy not only improves blood circulation and sleep patterns, it also reduces the level of stress hormones. A lower level of stress can reduce the incidence of going into tremors or turning rigid and can improve the confidence level of the patient by a marked degree.

IMPORTANT: As all people are different, for maximum safety, anyone considering massage treatments or Parkinson’s disease should consult their physician before beginning massage, exercise or other alternative therapies for their recommendations and to prevent any contraindications.

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About the author:
Alia Haley is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology, health and parenting. A regular contributor to Pinstripe Magazine, some of her recent writing include an article on Exercise-induced asthma for DIYHealth, “Learning Toys for Toddlers” for Parenting Clan, “Social Media Policy” for Bloggodown.