Although there is a clear public understanding of a condition called Parkinson’s disease with a marked tremor, that there are a number of distinct conditions which are all given the same diagnostic label. Some people do have a marked tremor, particularly marked when they try to do something, but others are more troubled by marked stiffness, called rigidity because it is caused by problems of the nerves, not the soft tissues of the joints, and yet others have as their principal problem dementia, and there are two types of dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease—Parkinson’s dementia and Lewy body dementia.
Cause and scope of prevention:
The cause is not known.
The diagnosis is usually based on clinical examination.
Standard medical therapy:
Benefit of exercise therapy:
It was once thought that the main benefits of movement in people with neurological disease was that it prevented loss of muscle strength and stiffness of the joints. However it is now clear that another important benefit is the direct action on the brain, particularly those parts of the brain adversely affected by injury or disease. It was thought that the brain did not develop or create new cells after childhood but it is now known that new connections can be formed at any age in what is called neuroplasticity and it may even happen that new nerve cells are created in what is called neurogenesis. It is very important therefore to practice old skills and gain new skills, there is also a significant psychological benefit.
Exercise therapy is beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease because it directly affects the disease process. The basic disorder in Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the wiring of the brain. Exercise creates new circuits in the brain—that is new connections between the neurons of nerve cells—particularly when a new skill is learned. This is sometimes called “increasing the neuroplasticity of the brain”, or simply, “rewiring the brain”.
Parkinson’s UK promotes the benefits of exercise at all stages of the disease and organises ‘Dance 4 Fun’ classes, emphasising that “Dancing benefits people with Parkinson’s by improving our balance, strength, flexibility, coordination and spatial awareness. It’s also great fun and we aim to create a friendly and supportive environment.”