By Interactive Metronome - January 16, 2014
Parkinson’s Disease has received more attention in the past few years than it has ever seen during its long, long history. Celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox have become the face of the disease and have spurred new interest in fighting this chronic, progressive condition. Although a Parkinson’s-type condition was described in the Ayurveda, a 5000 year old ancient Indian medical system, Dr. James Parkinson was the first modern doctor to attempt a detailed study of this “shaking palsy.” When Jean Martin Charcot, the founder of modern neurology, began studying the disease over 60 years later, he realized the importance of Parkinson’s work and championed the idea of renaming the condition in his honor.
Parkinson’s disease directly affects the central nervous system; it destroys dopamine-generating cells in the brain, resulting in an inability to coordinate movements. While the mind may stay sharp, messages are not reaching their final destination. Attempts to button a shirt can be hampered by uncontrollable tremors, slow movement (bradykinesia), or the inability to move. Rigid, stiff muscles lead to problems with eating, speaking, digestion, constipation, drooling, walking and even standing upright. Beyond the physical symptoms, Parkinson’s also causes confusion, dementia, memory loss, hallucinations, anxiety and depression. The disease can leave the individual a prisoner in his own body, a frustrating and terrifying prognosis. However, the disease affects each individual differently and, fortunately, most do not progress to the advanced stages.
The disease affects as many as one million Americans, and up to 10 million people worldwide. Males are nearly 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s, but other factors such as age, genetics, family history and head trauma also put individuals at a higher risk of developing the disease. Unfortunately, since symptoms often appear after age 50 and the disease progresses slowly, many people attribute the early signs of Parkinson’s to aging and do not receive targeted treatment. Individuals that develop Parkinson’s at a young age usually have a long family history of the disease; this form of the disease is rare and accounts for less than 5% of Parkinson’s sufferers.
Modern technology has extended the human lifespan, but diseases like Parkinson’s can rob someone of their quality of life during these later years. The loss of coordinated movement puts individuals at a high risk of injuring themselves in accidents and falls. Sudden freezing of gait, festination (uncontrollable acceleration), stooped posture, cramping and loss of balance from decreased arm swing all may increase the risk of falls. The medication Levodopa has shown promise at controlling these motor symptoms, but is ineffective for advanced patients and may even “wear off” throughout the day for mild to moderate sufferers. So, what else can be done?
Well, diet and exercise play an important role in overall health and will naturally help alleviate some symptoms, but they are no miracle cure. There is promising research in stem cell transplants, electrical brain stimulation and brain surgery. And, as with many neuromuscular conditions, physical, occupational and speech therapy are incorporated into most treatment plans. These professionals work with sufferers to help maintain independence and quality of life. What about a way to bridge the gap by combining cognitive tasks and engaging whole body movements? That is where Interactive Metronome® (IM) can fill in the void and take therapy to the next level.
IM is a patented and unique training tool that challenges thinking and movement simultaneously, providing real-time millisecond feedback to help synchronize the body’s internal clock. Restoring the critical timing and rhythm to functional brain networks helps to improve neural efficiency and communication. IM has been shown to improve many of the areas that are affected by Parkinson’s, including: memory, sequencing, oral motor control, speech fluency, balance, coordination, spatial awareness and fine motor skills. Don’t let Parkinson’s slow you down. Bernard didn’t. He was 86 years old and wanted to regain mobility so he could keep working! 86 and working! Clearly, Bernard was determined to stay active and Interactive Metronome helped him do it; check out his story here.
Bernard is not alone. Richard was starting to lose mobility because of his Parkinson’s. Even at 81, he was an active bowler and golfer; however, recently he was beginning to have trouble initiating movement and he was freezing. Unfortunately, this has caused problems standing and led to five falls in the past year. Richard’s physical therapist decided to incorporate IM training to improve his balance, coordination and gait. After just 12 sessions, Richard is reporting that he isn’t freezing as much when he walks, and has even returned to bowling and golfing with his friends.
And finally, we have Sally. Sometimes it is the little things, and just taking notes was hard for Sally. After IM, she was able to write legibly for the first time in years. Also, she is able to walk, sit and stand better; all of that adds up to a happier, healthier, more independent Sally. Check out some of our videos here, and look for Sally! IM is dedicated to helping those with Parkinson’s; don’t let this debilitating disease slow you down. It is about time you checked out IM.
But IM doesn’t stop there! IM’s Fall Risk Reduction Coaching & Certification Program teaches clinicians how to use IM to improve balance, focus, and the ability to have divided attention during movement. The Fall Risk Reduction Coaching & Certification Program addresses clients’ needs in a multi-system, dual tasking mode to achieve treatment outcomes directly related to decreasing the risk of falling. This six-webinar on-demand series focuses on incorporating IM into the treatment plan with various patient populations at risk for falling, while emphasizing two often-overlooked features of fall prevention: 1) that each professional who encounters the patient is responsible for identifying fall risk and intervening to prevent falls, and 2) how timing in the brain (or temporal processing) is at the heart of fall risk and prevention, including its effect on several systems: musculoskeletal, proprioceptive, oculomotor, vestibular, cognitive and communicative.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants will certified in the IM Fall Risk Reduction Protocol and will be able to immediately apply the principles learned in this course to design & implement discipline-specific treatment plans that effectively decrease the risk of falling. Check out the program here.