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Dover Post
  • Christina Miranda: Parkinson’s Disease — get up and move

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  • Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a disorder that affects certain brain cells that control movement. Over time, a person with PD can lose the ability to move easily, speak loudly and think clearly. The cause of PD is currently unknown, but it affects more people as they age. Currently, there are no medical or surgical options to prevent PD or to slow the disease process. Recent research shows that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing PD, and exercise also is the only treatment available to slow the progression of PD once you are diagnosed.
    There are many benefits to starting an exercise program, including improved energy levels, better sleeping habits, increased self confidence, stronger bones and healthier joints, increased muscle strength and improved digestion and blood circulation. People with PD can experience additional benefits of exercise including increased flexibility of muscles and joints, better posture, decreased stiffness and discomfort, improved mobility and overall improved quality of life.
    Unfortunately, there also are many barriers to participating in an exercise program consistently over time. These barriers often are exacerbated by the complications associated with PD. Many people have time constraints, fatigue, lack of appropriate space to perform exercises, fear of falling or getting injured or even a lack of knowledge about which exercises are safe to perform.
    For newly diagnosed people with PD, an exercise program can include walking, biking, yoga, tai chi or dancing. It is important to include strengthening, stretching and aerobic training as part of your exercise regime. As PD progresses, it can become more of a challenge to adhere to an exercise program. Keep in mind that exercise is different for everyone. For people with more advanced PD, something as simple as getting in and out of bed or standing up and sitting down can be part of an exercise program. A licensed physical therapist can help you create a program personally tailored to your needs.
    You should always consult with a physician prior to starting an exercise program. It is helpful to indentify the type of exercise you enjoy most to ensure that you will stick with it over time. Planning ahead and making an exercise schedule also can promote compliance with an exercise program. Many people find it helpful to recruit a friend or family member to exercise with them or to provide encouragement along the way.
    For people living with PD, there are many helpful resources available. The National Parkinson Foundation (www.parkinson.org) and Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (www.pdf.org) contain a lot of information about diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, research and support in your community. There also is an APDA Information and Referral Center telephone hotline you can call with questions at 617-638-8466 or toll-free at 800-651-8466.
    Christina Miranda, PT, DPT, NCS is a physical therapist at Spaulding Outpatient Center Framingham in Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in health studies and received her doctorate of physical therapy from Boston University in 2009.
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