Working with Parkinson’s — Trial and Error: Part 2

So a couple of weeks ago, I spoke about how I started off with walking practice for C. Although that helped, I recognised that it wasn’t going to be enough, so we both agreed to start to work on exercises that directly caused muscular development. The goal was to encourage the improvement of neuromuscular connection by increasing strength. The additional benefits included an increase in dopamine production (which more directly addresses the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease) and improvement in neuronal connection (synapses).

bodyweight_squats_silAnd so, we started. Of course, as a tonne of research has shown, working on the legs seems to have the greatest full-body benefits, and thus, I started teaching her chair/box squats. Of course, since she had to consciously move through different angles to do a squat properly, it  also improved coordination. Once I was comfortable with that, we started to move through the body in a systematic approach as she went through basic movements without weight. Due to muscular/strength degradation (as a result of the Parkinson’s), even these were a challenge for her, but she attacked each exercise like her life depended on it. This was a great start.

So we did bicep curls, kickbacks, front and lateral raises, shoulder presses, all without weights — and the improvement was phenomenal. I watched as the exercises became easier for her and she moved from stride to stride, confidence high, as all she could see was the next big step forward.

And it came with aerobics! I introduced slow dance aerobics to the equation once a week to help her rebuild her coordination and a sense of rhythm. I knew this would be pivotal in regaining independence since everything, from breathing to walking, requires rhythm.

The results were magnificent! Her strength and endurance improved. Her coordination improved. Her balance improved. She even started back driving. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to continue as planned, but more on that next week. Join me then for one of our major setbacks.

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