Traditionally, rehabilitation therapy for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients came with compensation strategies. However, many people are still unaware that early detection/ diagnosis can be tackled by empowering the pathways and cells in your basal ganglia. Based on the presenting impairments, this can be attained by knowing how to use it and improve it.

You may ask how?

By applying simple principles of neuroplasticity,  changes are able to take place and you can help yourself to rewire your brain. Thus, we can have more efficient pathways, granting us better movement.

There are 7 core principles to work on for Parkinson survivors at early stage.

1. Specificity & Practical application of specificity.

Firstly, physiotherapists can directly target your needs based on the assessment. It can be categorized into three main categories: bradykinesia, tremor dominant, and impaired agility.

2. High Effort

This consists of exercises that generate high motor output, meaning the need to commit to working hard. You will need to train to drive movements that is powerful, crisp, and strong. Remember that ‘no challenge, no change’!

3. Frequency

It is important to drive the neuroplastic changes in your brain by developing the necessary skill to move at a higher effort level consistently. By doing a task more frequently, you reinforce the circuits and pathways in your brain associated with that task. Over time, the task becomes more efficient, more automatic, and uses less conscious brainpower.

4. Power

A weak signal inhibits efficient recruitment and speed of muscle contraction. Then, the muscle begins to atrophy and deteriorate as it is not getting used to its full potential. You will need strength training to generate high–effort movement and effectively contract your muscles when needed. Amplitude training helps you achieve the full scale and range of available movement possible.

5. Complexity

By adding challenges, the exercises improve your overall capacity to do more than one thing at a time in everyday life. Dual-task training and mental tasks can be added in.

6. Saliency

We want the rehabilitation to sound salient and meaningful to you and your therapy goals. Simply ‘I want to move better’, will not be specific enough to drive you forward. You are not just exercising for your body but also for your social life and your self–esteem.

7. Fun

Lastly, the program is set up to be fun, engaging, and keep you interested in your progress! It is designed to give everyone with early-stage Parkinson’s access to the right type of exercise to help slow down the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

To sum it up, by incorporating the principles above in the rehabilitation plan, we can pull the brakes on the progression of Parkinson’s disease!

Prepared by Su Quan

Physiotherapist of Your Physio Penang

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