Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million people around the world, making it one of the most common degenerative neurological disorders. The condition targets the central nervous system, making it difficult for people to walk and causing tremors, rigidity and speech impairment, among other symptoms. Though the cause of the disease remains largely unknown and there is no cure, people with Parkinson’s can lead active, happy lives. That’s due in part to a variety of different approaches that have been developed to help reduce the disease’s symptoms. Not only do medications and surgery help but so, too, can something as simple as exercise.
“Exercise is beneficial for everybody,” says Michelle Dowd, clinical services coordinator at Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness in Pawleys Island. “And for people with Parkinson’s, it can make a tremendous difference.” That’s one of the reasons Tidelands HealthPoint, our regions’ only medical fitness center, offers its Power Through Parkinson’s class. Participants in the class use boxing and cycling movements to focus on improving balance, strength, coordination, stamina, dexterity and memory – all of which can be affected by the disorder. A pair of specially trained instructors also lead participants in voice exercises that can help with speech issues associated with Parkinson’s such as slurring, speaking softly or monotone speech. “The best part of the class is seeing the bonds that are created between the people who participate,” Dowd says. “They all understand what each other are going through, and because of that you get this unique level of support among the group.”
Notably, Dowd says, her experience in the class suggests the exercise program can help people at many different stages of the disease. “Everybody can do the exercises we are doing in class,” she says. “Some of the patients may need to modify the movements a bit, but the class challenges all of them–and they all want that challenge. They like to know they can do it, and they like the feeling accomplishment that comes along it.” Interested in learning more about the Power Through Parkinson’s program? Call Tidelands HealthPoint at 843-237-2205.