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MAGAZINE / Nov-Dec 2006 / Wake Up and Fight Parkinson's...

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Wake Up and Fight Parkinson's with Exercise

By Jackie Russell, RN
(Page 1 of 2)

Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains, for the most part, a mystery of medical science.  For reasons unknown, certain brain cells stop producing a substance called dopamine.  The lack of dopamine affects an individual’s movement, strength and balance.  PD causes a slow, yet progressive deterioration in function, taking many years to run its course.  When the diagnosis of PD is made, you experience a life-altering event.  It is not a condition you would desire, but PD does have the capacity to cause you to reassess your priorities and make lifestyle choices that can affect the course of the disease.

An emerging reality is the positive effect of exercise on the course of this disease.  An exercise agenda may offer stimulation to the various neurological pathways, increasing the capacity to counteract the progression of symptoms.  The exercise plan is a “Wake Up Call,” giving one a sense of purpose and direction, offering the opportunity to proactively improve conditions such as stability, flexibility, and management of tremor.  More importantly, it helps you to understand that you may have Parkinson’s disease, but it does not have you.

David Zid,  an ACE, APG certified personal trainer and president of Columbus Health Works, in collaboration with a local surgeon, Thomas H. Mallory, M.D., have authored a user-friendly guide, detailing a Parkinson’s - specific exercise plan that can be used daily.  Zid is an energetic trainer in the central Ohio area that has taken a specific interest in designing fitness regimens for individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s.  Dr. Mallory, a prominent and internationally renowned orthopaedic total joint surgeon was diagnosed with PD several years ago.  He has found that his enthusiasm for exercise has actually improved many of the symptoms of this progressive neurologic disease.  He has been using Zid’s program for the last two years and is ecstatic with the results including improvement in balance, strength and flexibility. They both feel that these obviously positive results should be shared with all individuals with PD, from the newly diagnosed to those in the well-advanced stages of this affliction. This manual is in the process of publication and will soon be available for purchase, including a corresponding video.  

The workbook describes and demonstrates specific exercises tailored to the Parkinson’s patient.  It requires a mental and physical commitment to a daily routine. With this routine, all parts of the body are challenged, from the dexterity and flexibility of the fingers, hands, and feet to stretching the shoulders, back and hips.  Emphasis is also placed on activities of daily living that frequently become a challenge, such as rising from a chair, getting out of bed, moving about in crowds, walking over uneven ground.  The Wake Up Call agenda is a metaphor for an attitude that commences each day as you realize there is an opportunity to modify the progression of this condition.  Dr. Mallory feels that the challenge presented to the individual with PD is to never give up.  “We must continuously pursue a positive and active approach with our exercise regime.  It is important that we all leave a legacy and are remembered as those who were privileged with the opportunity offered to manage PD.”

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