Midwest Young Onset Parkinson Conference

While Parkinson’s disease most commonly hits patients later in life, it also impacts younger people. For that group of people and their families, Team Theracycle would like you to know about an Ohio event upcoming in mid-November 2012: The Midwest Young Onset Parkinson Conference.

Our friend, Julie Sacks, Director, of the APDA National Young Onset Center in Winfield, IL was kind enough to provide details below.

If you’re in the midwest, certainly worth attending. If not — please consider making a donation to support the Conference.

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The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) National Young Onset Center and the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) will hold the 7th in a series of young onset conferences in Cincinnati, OH – November 16-17, 2012.

Yes, you did read that correctly, it is a conference for young people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Many people are still don’t think of the terms young and Parkinson’s as ones that go together, yet up to 15% of the  1.5 million Americans with the disease, are considered “young onset.”

What exactly does “young” mean when it comes to PD?  From a medical perspective, “young onset” is strictly defined as diagnosis under the age of 40. It is not uncommon, though, to see it defined as under the age of 50 (sometimes even 60).  As a general rule, people who are working full-time at the time of diagnosis will consider themselves “young onset.”

People with young onset Parkinson’s disease tend to experience a slower progression of the disease and a smoother course; however, they live with it for a much longer period of time than those diagnosed later in life. As a result, it is critical that young people with Parkinson’s disease and their families attend to issues such as long-term medication management, family relationships, and planning for the future from a financial and legal perspective.  The upcoming Midwest Young Onset Parkinson Conference will include presentations by experts in these areas and more.

The conference begins the evening of Friday, November 16, with a Meet and Greet Reception facilitated by local Parkinson’s advocate, Ben Contra, and featuring an “Ask the Doc/Open Mic – Q&A Session with Dr. Alberto Espay.  Friday night’s program will be interactive, offering participants an opportunity to meet others who, like them, are managing the disease at an early age.

The conference will continue with a full agenda of speakers on Saturday, November 17.  If you are interested in attending the conference, visit our Website to view the agenda or register now. For those unable to travel to Cincinnati, keynote presentations on Saturday will be Webcast live via the Internet.  Pre-registration for the Webcast is recommended.  Although the program is geared toward people with young onset Parkinson’s disease, much of the content is relevant to people of all ages with PD.

Both sponsoring organizations provide programs and services for people with Parkinson’s disease, their family members and healthcare providers.

For additional information, please contact the APDA National Young Onset Center at 877.223.3801/apda@youngparkinsons.org or the National Parkinson Foundation at 800.4PD.INFO/contact@parkinson.org.

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.

 

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.

 

Bicycling helping people with Parkinson’s curb their symptoms

Image Credit: Matt McClain/Washington Post

As its title suggests, a January 10, 2012 feature article in The Washington Post (Bicycling and other exercise may help people with Parkinson’s curb their symptoms,) states “while it cannot cure Parkinson’s, heavy-duty exercise shows promise for countering, even delaying, the inability to move that the disease causes.”

In her article, Post reporter Alice Reid details results that medical researchers and Parkinson’s patients are seeing from regular, intense exercise (such as rowing and cycling)

The article notes that the National Parkinson Foundation “emphasizes exercise as an important tool to fight the disease,” and “The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has funded close to $3 million in exercise research.”

Jay Alberts, the Cleveland Clinic researcher best known for his landmark work on “Forced Exercise” (cycling for Parkinson’s therapy) is quoted throughout the piece. A ‘just-completed study’ conducted by Alberts in which patients rode indoor bikes for exercise benefits is featured prominently.

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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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