What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. The condition is caused when there is an inadequate level of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. Dopamine is an important chemical that allows messages to be passed between cells in the brain. April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, where we annually work with our health partners to promote the services available to those impacted with Parkinson’s Disease.
Cause, Symptoms and Diagnosis of Parkinson’s
The cause of the reduction in dopamine levels in Parkinson’s Disease is due to a substantial reduction in nerve cells called Substantia Nigra. It is these specific cells in the brain that are responsible for the production of dopamine. Unfortunately, the reason for the death of these cells is still unknown.
Parkinson’s Disease is categorised as a ‘movement disorder’. Many symptoms may include shuffled gait, tremor/shaking, decrease in balance, slowness of movements (bradykinesia), and ‘freezing’ episodes. However, it doesn’t just affect the way we move, it can also cause non-motor symptoms such as problems with memory, thinking, sleeping, pain, and sensory changes.
To help with early detection if you have any concerns, organise an appointment with your local general practitioner who can organise a referral to a neurologist. A simple test to help determine whether you should be seeking medical assistance, is if two or more of the symptoms below has been present for a considerable duration:
- Shaking or tremor
- Slowness of movement, called bradykinesia
- Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk
- Trouble with balance and possible falls, also called postural instability
How Does Exercise Help?
There are a number of ways that the progression of the disease can be slowed, including exercise, medication and deep brain stimulation (DBS). Research has proven that Parkinson’s Disease-specific exercises – those that are based on a model of neuroplasticity – can greatly slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt to its needs by creating new neural pathways to compensate for injury and/or disease. By incorporating a modification change like exercise, Parkinson’s sufferers have seen improvements in gait technique, improved balance, and decreased freezing episodes. Additionally, an improvement of fine motor skills, delaying the need to increase medication dosages, and improving the ability to perform complex movements have also been proven through research.
EVENT: A Lap For Parkinson’s
For Parkinson’s Awareness Month 2022, Atkins Health is partnering with Parkinson’s Queensland, Home Instead and other local health professionals to organise an event to raise charity funds and awareness of Parkinson’s Disease. Sadly, many people diagnosed with Parkinosn’s do not even disclose their diagnosis to their family. However with increased education and help to reduce the stigma around the disease, we hope that more sufferers will be able to declare their condition and seek the professional assistance that will increase their quality of life and reduce their symptoms and progression of the disease.
‘A Lap For Parkinson’s‘ will highlight some activities and movements, demonstrated by our exercise physiologists and physiotherapists at the event, that can assist Parkinson’s sufferers, and will also include one lap of the athletic track to raise money for charity. All proceeds go to Parkinson’s QLD.
When: 30 April 2022
Time: 8.00am registration for 8.30am start
Where: Gold Coast Performance Centre, the location of our Runaway Bay clinic
You are encouraged to wear purple to the event in support of those impacted by the disease.
How Atkins Health Can Help You Ongoing
Atkins Health is passionate about helping our clients with Parkinson’s Disease, and promoting Parkinson’s Awareness Month in conjunction with our friends at Parkinson’s Australia. Atkins Health provides Parkinson’s treatment for clients aged from 40 to 80 years, each with differing symptoms and effects from the condition. Atkins Health specialises in individually treating and customising programs of Parkinson’s therapy to meet the individuals goals such as improving walking ability, improving balance and more. If you are still in the early stages of diagnosis, then we recommend that you make first make use of our specialised NDIS physiotherapy Gold Coast services for an initial assessment.
Access our Free Home Exercise Program
Our exercise physiology Gold Coast team have compiled a free program of the best exercises for Parkinson’s Disease that can be performed at home. The free downloadable exercise program provides instruction, images and a tracking card for eight exercises that can be performed at your convenience. Access the program here.
PD Revolution – Our Group Exercise Class
PD Revolution is our Parkinson’s disease-specific group exercise program. The program is aimed to improve gait, reduce freezing episodes, improve balance, improve fine motor skills, delay the need to increase drug treatment and ultimately regain confidence and independence. PD Revolution is comprised of land and hydro based exercises through individual and group settings, but the real key to the program is the social, supportive environments created by staff and clients alike.
Matthew Ternes, our General Manager, was the pioneer of PD Revolution, now the largest group exercise program on the Gold Coast, specifically designed for Parkinson’s Disease. I asked him how it came to fruition.
Growing up, my mother suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar and depression and from an early age I had to care for her and support my younger brother. This is where my interest in health began. Aligning this with my passion for sport, travelling throughout both Australia and New Zealand playing tennis, I soon realised that using exercise and movement to improve people’s health was my calling.
Unfortunately, when I was on neurological placements, I found that clients that had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s, motor neuron and many more, were merely being provided with medication and nothing more. There were no exercise plans or rehabilitation protocols to help with clients’ daily home activities, walking, balance and fine motor skills, and most importantly, simply helping with their confidence moving forward.
This is where my passion started with neurological rehabilitation – I knew there was a variety of exercise based neurological principles in research and I wanted to be able to educate allied health, medical practitioners, and most importantly clients, to provide them with the tools and support at home and in the community.
– Matthew Ternes, General Manager, Atkins Health
PD Revolution group classes run on a weekly basis at your choice of two Gold Coast clinics:
- Our Temple Gym Varsity Lakes clinic offers a one hour PD Revolution class every Tuesday at 10am
- Our Runaway Bay clinic based at the Gold Coast Performance Centre offers two one hour classes every Thursday, at 12.45pm and at 1.45pm.
The Atkins Health team are very proud to report that all clients that have come into the PD Revolution Parkinson’s exercise program have seen improvement in their condition. In addition to our regular group classes, we also run specialised community-based programs and through our partnership with Gold Coast Marathon, our PD Revolution clients have participated in a shorter version of the marathon annually since 2017, an achievement both we and our clients are also immensely proud of.
Atkins Health is an approved NDIS allied health service provider, offering NDIS physiotherapy Gold Coast services in addition to our exercise physiology-led programs. For more information on funding including private health care funds, DVA cards and other options, visit our blog post on funding your health care.
What Are The Next Steps?
Sessions for Parkinson’s Disease clients start with an Initial Consultation, in which the Atkins Health team assess long and short term goals, bio-mechanical breakdown on movements and conduct base level testing.
An exercise program and plan is then put together for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease based on current fitness levels and the management of each individual’s physical condition and capabilities. This program includes an individualised exercise program based on each client’s needs. This plan for each individual client is designed in accordance with our company wide test and objective measure protocols of six weeks.
At the end of your first six week journey with Atkins Health, our team check, test, track and analyse the results that you have achieved and re-prescribe accordingly. In our weekly or bi weekly exercise sessions with our clients, we will ensure our plan is going the way we need it to, to ensure progress and results. When our clients are starting to see results, the Atkins Health squad recommends progressing to group based classes. Whilst participants still work to their own tailored program, the camaraderie and fun social environment helps to promote faster results, and promote life-long friendships too.
Enquire About Our Group Exercise Programs