Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease. It is a disease in which a structure called basal ganglia in the brain is affected. Dopamine-producing neurons in the basal ganglia are impaired. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps with the fine regulation of body movements. Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive disease. The onset of PD is usually after 60 years. More than 10 million people live with PD worldwide, according to Parkinson’s Foundation. It is more prevalent in men than women.
The cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease are-
- Rigidity (stiffness)
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movements)
- Resting Tremors(pill rolling tremors of hands)
- Stooping posture.
Other symptoms include dysarthria(motor speech disorder), dysphagia(difficulty in swallowing), micrographia(handwriting becomes small), facial masking(facial expressions change a little), constipation, fatigue, and depression, sleep problems, and memory problems.
Movement and walking are affected. People with Parkinson’s take small and quick steps and have stooping posture. They have freezing episodes and reduced arms swings while walking. Postural instability is also present. As a result, the risk of falls increases.
Levodopa is the mainstay of treatment that aims to replenish the dopamine levels in the brain. Severe cases may require deep brain stimulation or surgery.
Orthotics, taping, and exercise help to improve movement patterns, posture, and gait. Some of the most effective exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease are-
- Chair exercises- Standing on one leg with chair support, heel lifts, leg lifts, chair squats, trunk rotations, and wand exercises.
- Balance exercises-
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, stand with feet together, tandem stance, weight shifts, sideways stepping, step-ups on a low stool, sideways walking, the figure of 8 walkings, marching in place, and bird dog exercises.
- Dual-task exercises- motor and cognitive together. For example, talk while walking.
- Closed-kinetic chain exercises. For example, stationary cycle, elliptical machine, leg press, wall push-ups, and bridging.
- Posture correction exercises- wall angles, wall leans, and prone back extensions.
- Strengthening exercises using light weights or resistance bands-biceps curl, triceps extension, lateral pull apart, overhead arm reach, and many more.
- Hand exercises- thumb to finger pads touching, opening and closing the fist, spreading your fingers and then bringing them together, using therapeutic putty.
- Stretching or flexibility exercises-targeting the majority of muscles of the body.
Exercises slower the progression of symptoms of Parkinson’s and improve the overall quality of life.