Parkinson’s, Taking Back Control

You get the Parkinson’s diagnosis, after which, everything is a blur. There’s lots of sympathy from friends and family for a while and then the world continues about its business leaving you to figure out what the hell happened here, and what you’re going to do about it.

Plenty of Parkinson’s people take the medication route without doing much else and slowly, almost imperceptibly, enter a downward spiral to who knows where.

However, some Parkinson’s people decide to take a proactive approach to living with PD. For these people it’s not what happened to them that counts, it’s what happens next.

They are simply not prepared to let Parkinson’s define them and so, many of them end up in the gym, probably for the first time since they left school. That’s pretty scary in and of itself, but it’s usually compounded by nagging self-doubt: will they notice my tremor, will it be painful, will I cope?

They all cope. In fact, they all prosper.

Do they work hard? Hell yes. Do they look daft? Sometimes. Do they care? They pretty soon learn not to.

Parkinson’s-specific exercise has to be physically and cognitively engaging in order to have any lasting impact, so I use a variety of props ranging from frisbees, poi, cones, dots and bands to agility ladders, balance balls and juggling sticks, combined with boxing, music, yoga and Tai Chi to mix things up and make them fun.

And what do PD people get from all of this?

Easy, exercise puts them back in control of life, which is a feeling they thought they’d lost forever.