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.

 

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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“Top 10” Blogs: Best Blogs on Movement Disorders

One of the principal purposes of The Theracycle Blog is to identify helpful online resources for people with movement disorders. In that vein, here’s a post from guest blogger Alvina Lopez with her take of the “Top 10 Blogs on Movement Disorders.” As Alvina herself admits- this is an ‘admittedly incomplete’ list, we’d love to hear from YOU about other blogs that you’ve found and would like to share with the community.

Read on for Alvina’s listing of “Best Blogs on Movement Disorders”

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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.

 

Bookmarks for Parkinson’s e-Patients

 

e-Patient Dave

ePatient Dave (aka Dave DeBronkart) is one of my personal heroes. While many pay lip service to helping patients to help themselves– Dave is a synonym for “patient advocate,” who through his myriad activities, speaking engagements and informative epatientdave.com website is a tireless champion for patient engagement and source of ideas and inspiration on how to use the Web for better patient outcomes.

This week Dave up a post on his website on e-Patient Resources for Parkinson’s Disease, which provides some basic info that’s worth a look from anyone interested in PD. As I’ve known Dave for several years, I reached out to him to provide a more in-depth (but, admittedly incomplete) listing of some of the top online resources for people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as PD caregivers and professionals. Here’s (for those who follow The Theracycle Blog) is the list of Bookmarks for Parkinson’s e-Patients, that we prepared and sent to ePatient Dave…

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Resource Guide for Young Onset Parkinson’s

While the average age of onset of PD is estimated at 60 years of age, between 5-10% of Parkinson’s patients contract “Young Onset” Parkinson’s disease (between the ages of 20 and 50).

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is the only Parkinson’s association in the U.S. with a Center dedicated to meeting the needs of those with young onset Parkinson’s disease.

The Theracycle Blog went to Julie Sacks, LCSW — Director, APDA National Young Onset Center in Winfield, IL (USA) for her advice and insights for the YOPD population:

Julie shares this comment:

“Discovering that you have Parkinson’s disease, especially when you are young, is overwhelming. Even if you’ve suspected it for some time (and it’s a relief to finally know what you’re dealing with) a confirmed diagnosis is still a shock and many people don’t know where to turn for support.”

In addition to educating people about the disease itself, the APDA National Young Onset Center ( http://www.youngparkinsons.org) has an online Resource Guide that consists of low-cost or no-cost programs and services available to help people manage other areas of concern such as: healthcare, mental health, insurance, employment, disability and finances.  It is easily accessible online at www.youngparkinsons.org/resource-guide.

This Resource Guide was created in order to direct people with Parkinson’s to reliable, affordable services. It was also designed to be interactive, so don’t hesitate to share your experience(s) with currently listed resources or recommend new ones.  The more involved the community is in growing the Resource Guide the more helpful it will be.

Julie let us know that members of the Center’s staff are also available Monday – Friday (9am-5pm CST) to discuss resources by phone at 877- 223-3801.

Beyond its informative website and Resource Guide, YoungParkinsons.org also maintains the excellent Young Parkinson’s Blog and publishes a free monthly eNewsletter.

Dedicated since 1961 to “ease the burden and find a cure for Parkinson’s disease,” the APDA is a major leader in research/education/public education and support for patients and families with PD. The Theracycle Team highly commends the APDA and its National Young Onset Center for their good works, and recommends their helpful resources and tools.

 

Parkinson’s Nutrition: Concerns & Recommendations

The Holiday Season is over!   With the New Year, it’s time to get back to healthy eating!

Proper nutrition for people with Parkinson’s disease is a recurring theme here at The Theracycle Blog.  Thus we’re glad to post a very informative write up on concerns and recommendations for Parkinson’s nutrition, courtesy of the California Parkinson’s Group (www.calparkinsons.org), whose mission is to “foster support and collaboration among friends and families with young onset Parkinson’s Disease through dialogue, education and involvement in the medical research community.”

Be sure to visit the CPG for a collection of useful PD materials and to participate in their forums: www.calparkinsons.org

Don't forget to eat your prunes!

Your mother always told you to “EAT YOUR PRUNES!” Read on to learn why and other helpful insights in “Significance of Nutrition in Parkinson’s” from our friends at the CPG.

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Theracycle: Part of Boston’s Leadership in Life Sciences

Theracycles "Made in Massachusetts" Help Drive Life Sciences Innovation

An 11/29/11 article in Mass High Tech titled “Report: Boston area is top U.S. life sciences hub” cites research from real estate services firm JonesLaSalle that
rates the metropolitan Boston area as the #1 region for established and emerging life sciences businesses (in comparison to other parts of the United States).

An excerpt from the JonesLaSalle 2011 Global Life Sciences Cluster Report reads “The [Boston] area enjoys seven times the number of workers in biotech R&D than the national average.” The area has more than 85,000 high-tech research employees and more than 340,000 hospital and medical employees.

The Mass High Tech article notes the Report “also highlights Massachusetts as the recipient home of 13 percent of all National Institutes of Health funding, with five of the top eight NIH-funded hospitals in the U.S. and the top five NIH-funded universities.”

As an NIH-funded Massachusetts small business, The Exercycle Company is proud to be part and parcel of the Boston-area’s preeminence as the top region for life sciences in the country.  While our operations might be considered small in comparison to some of the med-tech giants that operate in the Bay State — growing demand for our Theracycle (which powers proven exercise therapy for Parkinson’s disease), shows that we’re movin’ up!

Is Exercise the New Drug for Parkinson’s Disease?

 In our earlier post, “Delay the Disease – Exercise to Fight Parkinson’s Symptoms” you met David Zid and Jackie Russell, the founders of Delay the Disease—an exercise program developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Here in her first guest post for the Theracycle Blog, Jackie Russell provides her expert opinion on the topic “Is Exercise the New Drug for Parkinson’s Disease?”

 

 

 

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