The Forgotten Prescription For Movement Disorders

Hearing the diagnosis of any neurological disease can be a scary and overwhelming time for a person and their support system. A neurological disease is defined as a “disorder that affect the brain as well as the nerves found throughout the human body and the spinal cord”. The most common include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and strokes. While there is no easy fix, neurologic disorders can often be well controlled with modern medical advancements. An often forgotten about intervention, however, is the role of movement and exercise which are often an afterthought in a management plan rather than part of early interventions. But in the wide world of exercise options the question is: Where do I begin?

The key to exercise prescription concerning anyone with a neurological disorder is to remember that no individual has the same symptoms and goals. While some may want to get back to powerlifting, others may want to be able to get out of a chair without help or play on the floor with their grandchildren. Studies have found significantly better outcomes when individuals were given an individualized exercises programmed to their daily routines rather than a general plan one might find online1. One of the best programs for those with Parkinson’s Disease is called LSVT BIG. It’s an intensive program completed with a licensed physical therapist and involves one on one planning and goal setting with new challenges on a daily basis.

Not only does exercise have a positive impact on strength and endurance, but it also plays a large role in mental health. Those with neurological disorders have a higher rate of depression at 15 – 20% compared to 5% of individuals that do not2. In one study involving patients with multiple sclerosis, those that were part of an exercise intervention trial found significant improvements in mental health and mobility3. Part of the improvement in mental wellbeing is from the natural feel-good release your body has with exercise, but also from the social aspect of being around others. So, while it’s important to be specific with exercise, it’s just as crucial to do what you enjoy doing! Whether that’s incorporating forms of dancing, yoga, or Pilates, find what works and run with it.

If the idea of jumping into a routine is overwhelming, that’s understandable. Every neurological disease has symptoms including changes in movement, strength, and endurance. Not all changes are the same and every disorder has different precautions to keep in mind with exercise programs. On the flip side, you may also have aches and pains that have nothing to do with your disorder and everything to do with poor home office set up leading to neck pain (it happens to all of us, we’re with you), but it can be hard to determine where the root cause of that pain is on your own. Physical therapists are movement specialists that receive education in pathology and are knowledgeable about disease progression. The goal for physical therapy is to get back independence when you’re experiencing a disease that often feels like it’s taken over. Let us at Focus Physiotherapy help you get back control over your body and doing what you love to do those most!

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