Halting the progress of Parkinson's

Bourton gym heralds revolutionary treatment for Parkinson’s Disease with Co-ordinated Therapy, an effective exercise regime

The benefits of exercise are well known and well documented to all; heart health, improved blood pressure, weight loss – the list goes on. But in the case of neurological conditions, the benefits go much further.

The brain has tremendous ability to change its connections based upon its incoming stimulation - its inherent plasticity allows it to recover lost function and movement patterns by re-organising pathways through repetitive, coordinated movements.

At this year’s World Parkinson’s Congress, the latest research into the benefits of specific combinations of exercise was discussed in great detail, looking at both cardiovascular (heart health) exercise and skilled (task-related) exercise.

The synapses in the brain are responsible for transmitting nerve messages around the body - conditions such as Parkinson’s disease inhibit these messages, causing disrupted motor and non-motor functions. On a neurological level, whilst cardiovascular exercise (walking, cycling, running, swimming etc.) increases blood flow in the brain, it doesn’t provide an increase in synaptic numbers, whereas skilled exercise (learning a new motor skill) increases the number of synapses per neuron without the corresponding increase in blood flow.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the optimum conditions for effective neuroplasticity will occur through synergy of the two types of exercise.

The Co-ordinated Therapy team specialises in creating skilled exercises as coordinated movement therapy, specifically designing goal-oriented motor movements that challenge temporal and spatial accuracy, stimulating and re-organising the nervous system through a series of movements to trigger the recovery of lost functions.

‘My client Richard Carter - a farmer in his seventies - was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago and is a great example of how skilled movement therapy can help to manage the condition on a day-to-day basis,’ says Ed.

‘Richard complained of general low back and foot pain leading to postural instability, gait disturbances, slowness of movement and general lack of confidence. Having been active all his life, Richard was really frustrated by his decreasing strength and mobility - even though he made time to walk with support for at least three quarters of an hour each day, he found he was now relying greatly upon his wife for getting around.  

‘We started therapy to improve his general balance, to make positive changes to his left gait movement and to reduce the incidents of freezing and slowness of movement. On his first visit, Richard took part in two filmed tests: ‘Get up and go’ and ‘Ten metre walk’ and there was a clear delay between being instructed to stand up and actually moving, despite his determination.

‘For the next six weeks, Richard underwent three sessions per week of between 20 and 40 minutes of low intensity Co-ordinated Therapy. At the end of these sessions Richard would spend some time concentrating on his walking, sometimes emphasising the knee lift or even walking backwards.

‘After just one week there was a noticeable difference in Richard’s ability to walk unaided and he mentioned that his muscle tone felt much looser. After six weeks we repeated the initial tests and were very pleased with the obvious improvement - he was significantly stronger, could stand up and walk with no delay and no balance issues, able to walk both forwards and backwards with great confidence and having a much-improved posture.

‘His aches and pains had also diminished and his wife commented upon how much his general mood had improved, too, which was wonderful.  

‘Our gym also provides traditional exercise regimes designed to promote great physical fitness and a range of complementary therapies including osteopathy and hypnotherapy, so we are able to help with many common problems and conditions, of course.

‘However, to be involved in the revolutionary treatment of debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and MS, that cause so much distress and physical deterioration, and finding an effective way to halt and indeed reverse the effects, is incredibly exciting and rewarding,’ says Ed.

Anne Carter, Richard’s wife, says: ‘Ed and Alex were very helpful, encouraging and enthusiastic. I was very sceptical when I watched the video of a man with Parkinson's before and after using Co-ordinated Therapy but I was amazed when I saw the difference it made to my husband. His balance is much better, he is more upright, he doesn't drag his left foot so much and he is walking with more confidence.’

Find out more about Co-ordinated Therapies by visiting www.coordinatedtherapies.co.uk