TheraFit: How PT is the Natural Pain Relief Solution

THE NEWSLETTER ABOUT YOUR HEALTH AND CARING FOR YOUR BODY

Parkinson’s is a disease caused by the death of brain cells that make a critical chemical called dopamine. Without dopamine, voluntarymovement is impossible.MostpeoplewithParkinson’s disease take a drug called L-DOPA to treat their symptoms.The oraldrug isconverted intodopamine inthebrainallowingpatients to get up andmove more normal again. In 1988 Curt Freed, MD, professorofmedicineanddivisionheadoftheDivisionofClinical PharmacologyandToxicologyat theCUSchoolofMedicineand his colleague Robert Breeze, MD, performed the first transplant of human fetal dopamine cells into a Parkinson’s patient in the United States. His lab is currently working to convert human embryonic stem cells to dopamine neurons. These techniques should make it possible to produce unlimited quantities of dopamine cells for transplant. Parkinson’s at this time has no cure, however, research is finding that with physical therapy, an active lifestyle, and medication, the disorder can be managed to slow the progression down. One of the first noticeable changes to occur in a Parkinson’s patient is posture related; slumped shoulders, chin or neck protrusion, and slightly bent elbows and knees. These postural changes make breathing, swallowing, speaking loudly/clearly, moving, and maintaining balance more difficult to manage. The four major components to focus on for any Parkinson’s patient would include increasing mobility, strength, endurance, and balance. Disease progression can lead to loss of flexibility, poor posture, decreased strength, risk of falling, shuffled gait, and decline in cardiovascular conditioning; all of which affects every day function.  New research in physical therapy reports a way to treat Parkinson’s is withAmplitudeTraining.AmplitudeTraining helps Parkinson’s patients exercise in a greater range of motion with big over exaggerated physical movements, like high steps and big arm swings. It helps to retrain the muscles and slow down the progression of hypokinesia (slowed muscle movement like shuffling). Another good form of exercise that may be used in Physical Therapy is working on reciprocal patterns of the arms and legs such as on an elliptical or recumbent bike. Reciprocal patterns and movements are affected by Parkinson’s disease.  Increasing functionality by improving strength, mobility, and balance to avoid risk of falling also increases and prolongs one’s independence.Anexerciseprogram that includesfullbody stretching,strengthening,andaerobicexercises to increaseover all endurance such as walking, swimming, dancing, or riding a bicyclewouldbeextremelybeneficialandofcourseconsistency is crucial.Researchencourages performing awellness program of three to five days per week of exercising and increasing physical activity would be of value to a Parkinson’s patient. Research shows that high intensity exercising three times a PARKINSON’S / LATEST RESEARCH

week with your heart rate between 80 to 85 percent maximum will slow the progression of the disease. There are three ways to check your heart rate. 1. Manually at your neck or your wrist (find your pulseand count the beats for 60 seconds). 2. Pulse oximeter (can be purchased at the local drug store for around $15-$20). 3. HeartRatemonitor (FitBitorasmartwatchcanautomatically monitor your heart rate). The following is a quick and easy way to find your target heart rate between 80 and 85 percent of the allowed maximum heart rate for a high intensity work out: 1. Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate. 2. Take this number and multiply by 0.8 and 0.85 to get a target heart rate of 80% and 85%. For example = 220 minus age (72) = 148, 148 x 0.8 = 118.4 (round to the nearest whole number), 148 x 0.85 = 125.8 (round to the nearest whole number). So, to maintain a safe heart rate target zone for a high intensity work out, you would want your heart rate to stay between 118 and 126. Again, this example is specifically for a person at the age of 72. Sometimes it is hard to have a general idea of how hard you are workingorhowhighyourexercise intensity iswithoutconstantly monitoring your heart rate. Moderate activity feels somewhat hard. A few clues to know you are at a moderate intensity level would be that your breathing quickens, though not breathless, you develop a light sweat after about 10minutes of activity, and you can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing. Vigorous activity feels challenging. Clues that your exercise intensity is at a vigorous level would include your breathing is deep and rapid, you develop a sweat after only a few minutes of activity, and youcan’tsaymore thanafewwordswithoutpausingforbreath. In conclusion, Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that attacks motor neurons. Some of the main symptoms would include decreased balance and strength, slowed movements, shuffling gait, and poor posture.There is no current cure for this disease, but it can be managed with medication and physical therapy. A wellness program to include stretching, strengthening, and high intensity aerobic exercises is needed to reap the long term benefits and to slow the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s patients should consult with his or her Medical Doctor to get health and cardiovascular clearance then get scheduled with a Licensed Physical Therapist to get a personalized wellness program specific to his or her needs so the patient can get the most quality out of an exercise program. 

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