View Full Version : Parkinson's disease patients find benefits in martial arts exercise

8/23/2010 12:38am,
Parkinson's disease patients find benefits in martial arts exercise

News Chief correspondent

Many people have seen martial arts performed in movies and on television, most likely as a means of defense against opposing forces in battle scenes. However, in Winter Haven, a form of martial arts - tai chi - is being used as a means of defense against an internal opponent - Parkinson's disease.

Funded as part of a grant by the University of South Florida neurology department, Dr. Michael Carey has been offering free tai chi classes in Lakeland to Parkinson's disease patients for two years. This summer, he started offering the classes in Winter Haven.

Parkinson's disease patient Laura Williams began taking the classes in Lakeland and switched to the Winter Haven classes when they became available.

"I knew what tai chi was, but I didn't know how it could help people with Parkinson's disease," said Williams of her decision to start the class two years ago. "I heard about the class through my doctor, and I decided to go. It has helped so much with my balance, because my balance wasn't that good because of Parkinson's. The class has been good for that."

Williams said that because of tai chi's slow, deliberate movements, the exercise is one she can practice at home to supplement the once-a-week class.

"We're supposed to practice our movements at home each week," she said. "It's not an easy exercise, because there are a lot of movements to remember, It's easier when we're in class seeing someone else doing it. But it's very rewarding - I'd recommend it to others with Parkinson's, It's the best exercise, a calm exercise. We aren't doing something hard like jumping jacks."

For Parkinson's patients, staying active in a non-strenuous way is ideal, Carey said.


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8/23/2010 12:47am,
I wouldn't doubt it for a second due to the focus on movement and balance. I remember watching a show where they had these people wracked with Parkinsons, total body convulsions and all, it was quite upsetting. The show was about a new treatment where they basically stuck them on a push bike and let them ride for a bit, not long into the ride they would be riding freely with no wobbles and the effect would last for, IIRC, a good few hours afterwards. They could even pour tea, which, if you had seen them before the ride, was a fucking impossibility.

Good find, I think with all the neurological disorders I am bound to encounter in later life I need to hear this kind of hope.