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.

 

 

 

Parkinson’s Unity Walk Coming Up April 28

As we hope you know, the Theracycle team is an active supporter or organizations and initiatives that support fundraising for research for treatments of Parkinson’s disease. In that vein, we’d like to share the news of the 18th annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk, which is upcoming April 28. Hope many of you can participate/donate. VERY worthy cause and an inspirational event!  Keep Moving!!

More details in the this press release…
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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.

 

Life, Love, Relationships + Parkinson’s Disease

Kim & Rich Rosek

This week (first week of March 2012), Kim and Rich Rozek — the husband/wife team behind PD Talk Live!— are debuting a new weekly reality podcast on living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD):

Drawing on their experiences (since Rich was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s circa 10 years ago,) the “Life, Love, Relationships and Parkinson’s” podcasts will give the couple’s personal perspective on living a high quality life and maintaining a successful marriage as they’ve navigated their family’s PD voyage.

Since Kim and Rich have “been there, done that,” they’re uniquely qualified to provide insights worth hearing.

To hear the podcasts and learn more about/and from Kim & Rich visit their Parkinsons.me website. Be sure to follow Rich on Twitter: @pdtalker.

Given that people are riding Theracycles across the country to alleviate their Parkinson’s symptoms, we look forward to listening!

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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Boston Herald on Theracycle: “Parkinson’s sufferers will reap benefits”

Fans of the Theracycle will want to read this just-published (2-15-12) article written by Boston Herald business reporter Brendan Lynch titled “Exercise Bike Reinvented– Parkinson’s sufferers will reap benefits”  featuring an interview with Peter Blumenthal.

Read on below or see the article at the BostonHerald.com website at  bit.ly/wPBTRa

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Boston Herald
Exercise bike reinvented
Parkinson’s sufferers will reap benefits

By Brendan Lynch            Wednesday, February 15, 2012
http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Technology Coverage

 

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/technology/general/view.bg?articleid=1403672

A Franklin company bought out of bankruptcy in 2002 has landed federal funding for its “forced exercise” technology — motorized exercise equipment — to help treat people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

“It sounds counter-intuitive,” Theracycle CEO Peter Blumenthal told the Herald. “Why would you ever use an exercise bike with motors? But you can overcome the motors as you regain strength.”

Theracycle won a $200,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to modify its bike to replicate a therapeutic effect caused by tandem bicycle riding discovered by a Cleveland Clinic study.

In August, the company plans to apply for a Phase II SBIR grant, which could be as high as $2 million, to prove the bike would be effective in treating Parkinson’s.

People with Parkinson’s or other mobility-limiting conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries, often don’t exercise at all because it’s so difficult, which exacerbates their condition.

“(Exercise) gives the same benefit a healthy individual gets, except it’s much more important,” Blumenthal said. “Since their bodies are so decimated, they get secondary conditions, like Type 2 Diabetes, poor circulation, stiffness.”

Blumenthal once owned the retail chain Frame King, but sold it in 1998 for “between $5 million and $10 million.” In 1999, he was struck by a car in Newton while riding a bike. He broke his neck, but was not paralyzed.

“When I started rehab I found it was impossible to use traditional exercise equipment,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”

In 2002, a friend told him about The Exercycle Co. He bought the 60-year-old Rhode Island company out of bankruptcy for $150,000, moved it to Franklin, and changed its name to Theracycle to reflect its new status as a medical device.

The company, with about eight employees, is moving toward profitability, Blumenthal said, and sells the bikes to homes and hospitals for $3,000 to $5,500.

Blumenthal is confident in Theracycle’s market opportunity — there are 1.5 million people with Parkinson’s disease in the United States.

“If we could get 1 percent of that market, that’s 15,000 bicycles,” he said. “That becomes a $75 million business.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/technology/general/view.bg?articleid=1403672

Copyright: Boston Herald

“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.

 

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.

 

Davis Phinney Foundation: Exercise helps people with Parkinson’s “live better” today

The Triumphant & Victorious Davis Phinney-- Theracycle's Hero

As a company who builds exercise bikes for people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, it should come as no surprise that Davis Phinney is a hero of ours!

For those who don’t know of him, Colorado-based Davis Phinney is a retired professional cyclist (and 1984 Olympic medalist) who at the age of 40 was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s 12 years ago. A perpetual motion machine, Davis has led bicycle tours and conducted cycle-related fundraisers for PD research for many years.

In 2004, he founded The Davis Phinney Foundation (DPF), which is dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s disease to “live well today,” through educational programs, events and, the funding of research focused on exercise, speech and other quality of life therapies.

DPF-funded research includes support for multiple projects directed by Theracycle’s own official Medical Advisor, Boston University Prof. Terry Ellis, PT, PhD, NCS including her 2010 study: “Factors Associated With Exercise Behavior in People With Parkinson Disease.”

For all these reasons, it is with great pride, that we share this first guest blog post from the tremendous team at the Davis Phinney Foundation — among the most dedicated and enthusiastic Parkinson’s exercise ambassadors we know!

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