Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder whereby there is a loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Dopamine is a modulator of motor output and a loss of this dopamine results in poverty of movement. This can lead to a range of symptoms including tremor, slowness, rigidity and impacted balance and gait.
Medications are essential for managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s, however they do not protect the remaining cells in the brain. This means as the disease progresses, the remaining cells which produce dopamine will continue to be destroyed and symptoms will progress. Specific exercise can play a neuroprotective role, which can help to slow the progression of the disease.
At Southside Physiotherapy we offer the “PD Warrior” program, which is an evidence-based exercise program designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. Whilst other forms of exercise such as walking, swimming or going to the gym are great for general health and fitness, they are not specific to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The seven core principles of PD Warrior are:
- Specificity (the exercises are specific to you and your Parkinson’s symptoms)
- High Effort (this can increase cortical drive and increase automaticity of movement)
- Frequency (the neural pathways require stimulation every day to rewire the brain)
- Powerful (the velocity of movement is reduced in Parkinson’s and cueing for powerful or high amplitude movements can help to “recalibrate” movement
- Complex (when extra attention, planning, processing of information and/or multitasking is required it helps grow new neurons that become part of a more efficient brain network)
- Meaningful (increasing intrinsic motivation to increase long-term management)
- Fun (we want you to have fun!)
Everyone is required to attend an initial assessment, whereby medical and exercise history is discussed and main Parkinson’s symptoms ae identified. Following this initial assessment you will attend several individual sessions to learn the specific exercises that will help you. After this you may choose to join one of our PD Warrior group sessions. The social element of these group sessions can help with long-term exercise adherence.
In addition to the face-to-face services we offer at Southside Physiotherapy, the Tribe 365 community is a digital community connecting PD Warriors worldwide. There are monthly themes designed to inspire and empower the PD Warrior community, with guest speakers, ongoing educational content, discussion groups and exercise videos and tips.
If you have any further questions about the PD Warrior program, contact Southside Physiotherapy on 9527 4099.