Working with Parksinsons

Working with Parksinsons

I have just been asked to set up a seated class specifically for Parkinson’s sufferers and wondered if you have ever worked with this group of people?

I’d be really grateful for any ideas you may have – I know that the class will be very much mixed ability, some in wheelchairs, some with carers, some quite able.  I don’t know too much about this disease so if you could recommend any reading matter that too would be useful.

Answer from Sherry

Parksinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder and thus you will see that the movements from these students will be slower and more deliberate as the brain sends messages to the muscles to generate the movements, including speech.  This messaging can be slow, delayed or fragmented.
Thus, you would want to move a bit slower while watching your students. If they can’t see to keep up, then break down the movement to smaller pieces until they can follow you. Dexterity movements with the fingers are good to include because that helps with the brain to body connection and improves dexterity and coordination.
Balance is very much affected in this condition, so keep them seated. Work on strengthening the postural muscles in the back (Cactus, L for Love, Life Force reach, etc) and poses that strengthen the core (soccer kicks, reaches and bends, etc).
Also bring in some cross-patterning like Cactus alternates, The Mirror and seated marching so that the left and right side of the brain start working together because there is usually a weaker side of the body with this condition.

Slow digestion can also be an issue, so offer up some gentle twists using the breath. Exhale on the twist. A few slow Sun Salutations can help to bring heat into the body and get things moving internally as well.

Our go-to resource is the Mayo Clinic when we want to investigate more on specific medical issues.  Here is their link

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055

Good luck!  You will do great!  Remember to have fun, and make it fun.  Don’t get too serious, and don’t worry if they can’t do everything you are teaching.  You will learn alot from just watching your students and encouraging movements they can do, and eliminating ones that seem too challenging.  It is a learning process… be open and full of love!

Let me know how it goes!
Blessings to you and those you serve!
Sherry