Have you recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)? Did you know that 60,000 Americans receive this diagnosis each year? This doesn’t count those who’re undetected. Do you have questions about Parkinson’s training to help treat the disease?

Keep reading to find expert answers to questions asked by people with Parkinson’s (PWP).

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

PD is a progressive disorder in the nervous system that kills dopamine-producing cells. Dopamine is a chemical that transmits information between nerve cells called neurons.

This neurochemical elevates mood, attention, and motivation. It also regulates learning, emotional responses, and movement.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Each person’s Parkinson’s symptoms vary. The following describes common issues associated with PD.

  • Tremors or shaking
  • Bradykinesia (slow movement)
  • Rigid muscles
  • Freezing episodes
  • Impaired posture
  • Loss of automatic (unconscious) movements
  • Altered speech
  • Changes in handwriting

If you’re noticing these symptoms, it’s time to see a specialist in Parkinson’s. They will complete an exam and tests to determine your diagnosis.

Treatment Plan for Parkinson’s

Your specialist may recommend taking Parkinson’s medications. This reduces and manages PD symptoms.

Participating in an exercise for Parkinson’s program will maintain your highest function. This includes better control over movement, balance, and walking. It also reduces your risk of falling.

Answers to Questions About Parkinson’s Training

PWP and their caregivers often have many questions as the disease changes. The following provides answers for everyone involved in living with PD.

1. What Can PWP Do to Get Their Body Moving?

Research has shown that higher vs moderate-intensity exercise leads to better function. The following provides some examples of high-intensity programs to help PWP.

  • Circuit training: mixing walking, sitting, standing, or lying down
  • Interval training: cardiovascular exercise on a treadmill, Stairmaster, or bike at variable speeds
  • Interval training: mixing running, jogging, and/or sprinting
  • Interval training: mixing walking at alternating moderate and fast paces

Here are some more ideas of exercises to get your body moving.  Increasing dopamine efficiency improves body control, strength, posture, balance, and function.  It’s often hard to establish and stick to a consistent exercise schedule.  To achieve these benefits, you make a plan and commit.

2. What Is the Best Way to Get Out of a Freezing Episode?

About one-third of PWP experience freezing episodes.  This is a sudden blocking of movement.  It often occurs as you start to walk, turn, move through narrow spaces, or around obstacles.

Freezing can last between a few seconds and several minutes and increases fall risks.  PD exercise specialists teach you and your caregiver how to relieve freezing episodes.

Some examples include trying another movement, changing direction, or “stepping over” something. You may try humming, counting, or marching. Your caregiver can help using stretching techniques taught by the specialist.  Exercising regularly can help one decrease freezing episodes.

3. How Can PWP Decrease Muscle Stiffness and Slowness?

Muscle stiffness and bradykinesia impair balance and affect cognition and mood. Researchers believe regular exercise can increase your body’s dopamine release.  Stretching the muscles regularly can help decrease tightness and rigidity in muscles.  Thus, high-intensity, exercise training can help you fight back against PD.

4. What’s the Best Way to Relieve Muscles That Get Stuck in a Fixed Position?

Have you experienced muscle rigidity that caused you to be stuck? PD exercise specialists have developed stretching procedures to relieve rigidity.  They will teach you and your caregiver techniques to overcome these episodes.

5. How Can PWP Reduce Bradykinesia and Apathy?

A 2018 study in Movement Disorders found that exercise in PWP increased dopamine.  Specifically, it raises dopamine transmission in the striatum.  The brain’s striatum controls several different motor and cognitive functions including:

  • Decision-making
  • Motivation
  • Perception of rewards
  • Planning for muscle movement and action
  • Reinforcement

Participants completed motor and non-motor function tests including tests for depression and apathy. They found that those who exercised routinely had higher dopamine levels. Their scores for bradykinesia and apathy were also lower.

6. Which Mobility Devices Can Help a PWP?

Make daily activities easier by using mobility devices to improve independence and safety.  The following describes several device suggestions.

Walking Devices

Canes and walkers can improve your stability.  PWP often do better with straight canes vs tripod or quad models. Also, the four-wheeled walkers provide more stability for PWP.

Eating Devices

Rocking knives make it easier to cut food.  Utensils with weighted, larger handles are easier to grip and decrease tremors.  Use plates with curved-up edges and travel cups with lids and straws also make eating easier.  This article will give you 7 Must-Have Cooking Gadgets to make it easier to cook with Parkinson’s.

Dressing Devices

For many PWP, getting dressed is a frustrating chore. There are several devices to make this process easier.

  • Large-grip, weighted button aids to assist with pulling buttons through the hole
  • Zipper pulls that have a ring to connect to the zipper and a handle
  • Magnetic buttons on shirts don’t need traditional buttoning

Choose shoes with elastic shoelaces or Velcro straps.

Bathroom Devices

Install handrails, grab-bars, and non-skid mats in the bathroom, tub, and shower.  Tub chairs/benches and raised toilet seats also increase independence and safety.  Electric razors and toothbrushes and touch faucets also make grooming easier.

Writing Devices

Companies make large, easy-to-grip, weighted pens and pencils.  This reduces shaking and helps with writing.

7. What Are Some Tips for Creating Safe Spaces?

You can reduce fall risk by making living spaces safer.  First, remove clutter including rugs that you could trip on.

Don’t drape cords across walkways.  Install motion sensor lights in dark areas of your home.  Carry a cell phone with an emergency number to call if needed.

8. What Should PWP Eat?

If you’re above your ideal weight, this can worsen muscle rigidity and mobility.  Combining exercise with a healthy diet can improve your PD and reduce weight.

Eat a high-protein diet to help build muscles to improve balance and mobility. Take amino acid supplements to improve dopamine production. Eat fruits, vegetables, and low-carbohydrates to help with weight loss.

Parkinson’s Training Program

The Parkinson’s Success System is a proven and effective program designed by Master trainer and Parkinson’s Specialist Jonathan Rose who specializes in training people with Parkinson’s as well as their caregivers and the people who take care of them.  Over the past 14 years Jonathan has worked with many people with Parkinson’s from mild to advanced symptomsinvolving exercise and stretching. It’s managed by Jonathan Rose.  Your caregiver is taught how to assist with the techniques.

This system focuses on decreasing symptoms, increasing dopamine efficiency, and improving balance. You and your caregiver will also learn how to manage freezing episodes.

This program also includes strategies to track your exercise and its benefits. The goal is for you to gain internal motivation to maintain the exercise schedule.

Has Parkinson’s Touched Your Life?

This article answered questions about Parkinson’s training. Parkinson’s Specialist, Jonathan Rose, designed the Parkinson’s Success System. It includes proven and effective techniques, exercises, and stretches for PWP.

Mr. Rose’s mission is to help PWP live their best possible life.  Contact us today to ask questions and schedule an appointment.