Working with Parkinson’s — Trial and Error: Part 1

Last week, I started talking about my experience with C, a client who has Parkinson’s Disease. It was a great experience and in this series, I’ll be sharing some of it with you. We started off talking about training a few times and our first attempt at training was in the simple form of walking.

2000px-Sir_William_Richard_Gowers_Parkinson_Disease_sketch_1886_2.svgWalking was the basis for our programme because the goal was to help her to regain her rhythm. The disease had primarily affected the left side of her body, so it was always catching up to her right side, so I focussed on trying to get her to walk rhythmically. It was literally one step at a time at this point.

I had early morning clients in a savannah about 15 minutes away from where she lives, so she came in time for that class to end. The path around the savannah is about 800m and made of asphalt. There are some rough spots due to tree roots growing under the path. I decided that I’d use these to my advantage.

We worked on building up to a comfortable speed and every time we reached the rough spots, I insisted that she steps on or over them instead of going around. Of course, I stayed close in case she lost her balance anywhere, but she never did. She always seemed apprehensive about it, but only for a moment as C knew that she needs to push hard if she wants to slow the disease at all, so she attacked the bumps with gusto!

At first, one lap was all we could do, but as time went on, we increased to two as her endurance started to improve. Saturday mornings were filled with more and more smiles as she progressed.

Now, it was on to phase II — rebuilding her muscles. She requested that I come to her house a few times a week to train her. This meant that I needed to come up with a new plan. I would have to figure out which exercises she could do and would show the most development of her gross motor skills, but I’ll talk about that next week. I hope you enjoy going on this journey with me.

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