April is Parkinson's Awareness Month
Parkinson’s Disease gets mentioned a lot in April – it’s the month that highlights awareness of this challenging condition and its treatment. As with many neurodegenerative illnesses, there’s currently no “cure” - just ways to slow down its progress, build up compensatory strengths, alleviate symptoms, and improve quality of life.
It’s a central nervous system disorder – the second most common one after Alzheimer’s - caused by the death of dopamine-containing cells in a chunk of the brain called the substantia nigra. The most common symptoms are tremors, muscle rigidity, slowed down intentional movement or freezing altogether, problems with balance, drops in speaking volume or difficulty speaking, and impaired cognition and memory. Different people are affected differently.
The elderly are at greater risk, as are people who have been exposed to certain pesticides and herbicides in the environment; and also people exposed to heavy metals.
Traditional medicine does a decent job of managing early symptoms, but those become less effective over time.
Over the years, I’ve seen more and more studies pop up showing the benefits derived from using mind-body methods and integrative medicine tools to counter the debilitating effects of PD. My main interest has always been to see what’s doing with guided imagery and other mind-body interventions. But there’s a whole host of evidence-based techniques that can make a substantial difference. Take a look at the list:
- Guided Imagery
- Learning the Tango (we kid you not!)
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
- Tai Chi and Qigong
- Reiki, Healing Touch & Other Biofield Therapies
- Yoga and Yoga Therapy
- Music Therapy & Choral Singing
- PT and Light Exercise
We’d love to know if you or anyone you know living with Parkinson's use any of these methods to remediate symptoms and improve quality of life and function. Please share what you’ve learned, so we all can benefit from your experience!