According to the New York Times….

Exercise Can Be a Boon to People With Parkinson’s Disease

No kidding…….I have written many times about the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson’s Disease, as have my fellow Parkinson’s bloggers.  An article in yesterday’s New York Times reiterates much of what I have said before.  The author says: “For Parkinson’s patients in particular, regular exercise tailored to their needs can result in better posture; less stiffness; improved flexibility of muscles and joints; faster and safer walking ability; less difficulty performing the tasks of daily living; and an overall higher quality of life.”  If you are like me and exercise regularly to help improve your symptoms, you already knew that.

I can attest to the benefits of exercise for me, especially since I am returning today from an 18 day cruise.  While I tried to exercise daily, it is hard to maintain a routine while traveling and by the end of the trip I could really feel the difference; my body was just not in sync.  So my body and I are both looking forward to getting back to yoga, boxing and the other activities that keep us moving.

I have found that regular yoga helps with flexibility and balance and boxing builds strength, endurance and agility.  The combination of the two has wIMG_0386orked well for me (and many others).  They make a huge difference in performance in other areas like tennis — better footwork, faster response times and even in seeing the ball better. Most importantly, I just feel better overall.

BUT do not start an exercise program without consulting your doctor first, especially if you have not been exercising.  Your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program by working with a Physical Therapist to establish a baseline for you and to help you learn exercises that will be beneficial for your specific needs.  And don’t forget getting motivated,  Working with a personal trainer provides one kind of motivation through personal attention; group classes provide a different kind of positive social reinforcement.  Find the mix that works best for you.

And don’t forget to exercise your brain; doing puzzles, playing cards or practicing with a musical instrument.  I may have found a new mental exercise in getting reintroduced to playing Bridge during our cruise. During days at sea we joined the daily beginners classes in the morning, and often played with the group in the afternoon as well.  Bridge, more than any other card game I have played, requires total concentration and attention to the every aspect of the game.  And the game’s conventions have changed dramatically since we learned to play over 40 years ago.   I hope that relearning the game almost from scratch will provide new and fun mental exercise (boxing for the brain??) and improve my mental concentration the way phsyical exercise has helped my body.

Hopefully we will find a way to continue to play Bridge now that we’re home and that it will find its own regular place in my daily or weekly routine (without becoming another Parkinson’s obsession).  Introducing and maintaining changes in those routines while keeping everything in balance is itself a challenge that we should look forward to meeting.hand35-b

WPC Continued….Beware, this may “make you dopey”

Thursday afternoon I went to a very informative session on “Speech and Swallowing”.  There are several points that are worth sharing.  First of all, voluntary coughing is a good thing as opposed to a reflexive cough that occurs when you swallow wrong.  If you are having problems with swallowing , you should see a Speech Pathologist who specializes in PD for an evaluation.  There are many non-medical treatments that are available such as postural changes, diet modification and LSVT/LOUD training.  LSVT/LOUD trains you to speak louder and also strengthens the muscles in your throat that are involved in the swallowing reflex.  There are progams available on-line, but the speakers all recommended working with a Speech Pathologist and using the programs for practice.  The other interesting fact is that the Basal Ganglia in your brain gives the feedback to your speech.  In PD it does not function well and the perception is that your voice is louder than it actually is.  So when others complain that they cannot hear you, think about going for a speech eval.  Finally, sing!  Singing can have a positive effect on your speech.

We all know now that exercise is an essential part of any therapy for PD.  “Exercise as Treatment” reinforced the need for exercise of any kind.  Your brain becomes engaged when you exercise.  It switches from automatic functioning to more cognitive, which in turn can create resiliency/plasticity in the brain.  In other words, your brain is adapting and reconnecting, forming new pathways.  The more complex your exercise, the more effective it is.  A combination of more than one type of exercise is optimal.  If you are new to exercise, you need to work with someone who understands PD and can adapt an exercise program that works for you.  The biggest issue with studies for exercise and PD is that most studies only use people with mild or moderate disease.  People with more advanced PD need to be included to see if they can also benefit from exercise.

Finally, the standing room only session on Complementary Care (CAM) did not disappoint.  CAM care is not embraced by many doctors, but is very popular with patients.  And the research is beginning to prove that it does help in many ways.  Although he had no samples for us to try, Dr. Benzi Kluger spoke about the benefits of Cannibis and the different forms that are available.  Some of his slides are below for your enjoyment.  Dr. Indu Subramanian, who happens to be my MDS, talked about Yoga and its benefits for PD, challenging the doctors in the room to encourage their patients to give it a try.   Dr. Laurie Mischley spoke about her studies using Glutathione for PD, something which is definitely not on the radar of many doctors. The results of the few studies are inconclusive.  Some show benefit, others don’t.  Finally, after some technical difficulties, Matt Ford entertained us with music that we can all relate to, using it as therapy.  He began with “Staying Alive” from Saturday Night Fever and then showed a video of a man who could barely move until he put on some music.  You would never know that he had PD.  At the end, everyone was singing and dancing in the aisles.  He left us wanting more!!!

 

Inspired by Colleen

Our support group, Inspired Women with Parkinson’s in Los Angeles, met last Sunday with yoga therapist extraordinaire, Colleen Carroll.

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Colleen Carroll and Jen Heath

We began the meeting with each person naming one challenge she has because of Parkinson’s.  The two most common challenges were deteriorating handwriting and sleep issues.  It seemed that handwriting was much more important than lack of sleep to almost everyone.  What are some of the challenges facing you as a Person with Parkinson’s?  Take the poll below.

According to Colleen, yoga as therapy is a new phenomenon, beginning abut 30 years ago with Mr. TKV Desikachar.  To illustrate that the breath is the fundamental element in yoga, Colleen quotes Mr. Desikachar: “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”   It is the art of synchronizing breath and movement.  When the nervous system starts to get unified, balanced and brought together, we start to behave, breathe and move in a harmonious way.  Beginning with the breath, the goal of yoga is to calm the activity of the mind.  This mental focus gives you the ability to command the pace of your thoughts and the quality of your thinking and to direct the mind in a single-pointed way.   What happens over time is that we replace the multi-level activities in the brain with a calmer sequence of thoughts.

Colleen has a new DVD coming out in the next few weeks called NeuroTherapeutic Yoga,  specifically for people with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. There are three breath-based sequences; a floor sequence that can be done on the bed if you cannot get on the floor, a standing sequence using the chair if needed, and a chair sequence.   All can be modified to fit your needs.  You can play all the way through it or choose just one section.

After Colleen’s introduction to yoga therapy, we took our chairs and yoga mats and spent a wonderful hour practicing yoga.  We ended with viparita karanii (legs on a chair), listening to Colleen’s soothing voice leading us through a meditation.  Everyone left refreshed and much calmer.  Thank you Colleen.

 

 

Practice Your Downward Dog

Inspired Women with Parkinson’s in Los Angeles
Invites you to

Yoga for Women with Parkinson’s

with special guest

Colleen Carroll

Yoga Therapist • Health Educator, Kaiser Permanent

Sunday, August 14 at 10:30 am

Westside Pavilion

Community Room A

10800 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles
No yoga experience necessary

Dress comfortably and bring a yoga mat or a beach towel
RSVP to Twitchywoman18@gmail.com by August 10