Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition. People with Parkinson's don't have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson's to appear.
There's currently no cure for Parkinson's and we don't yet know why people get the condition. Parkinson's doesn't directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time. One person in every 500 has Parkinson's. That's about 127,000 people in the UK.
- Parkinson's UK
Tai chi helps Parkinson’s patients with balance and fall prevention
National Institute of Neurological Disorders
Exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle but it is also a key part of therapy, rehabilitation and disease management. For Parkinson’s disease, exercise routines are often recommended to help maintain stability and the coordinated movements necessary for everyday living. An NIH-funded study, reported in the February 9, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine,* evaluated three different forms of exercise – resistance training, stretching, and tai chi – and found that tai chi led to the greatest overall improvements in balance and stability for patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.
Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's
Fuzhong Li, Ph.D., Peter Harmer, Ph.D., M.P.H., Kathleen Fitzgerald, M.D., Elizabeth Eckstrom, M.D., M.P.H., Ronald Stock, M.D., Johnny Galver, P.T., Gianni Maddalozzo, Ph.D., and Sara S. Batya, M.D.
We conducted a randomized, controlled trial to determine whether a tailored tai chi program could improve postural control in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. We randomly assigned 195 patients with stage 1 to 4 disease on the Hoehn and Yahr staging scale (which ranges from 1 to 5, with higher stages indicating more severe disease) to one of three groups: tai chi, resistance training, or stretching. The patients participated in 60-minute exercise sessions twice weekly for 24 weeks. The primary outcomes were changes from baseline in the limits-of-stability test (maximum excursion and directional control; range, 0 to 100%). Secondary outcomes included measures of gait and strength, scores on functional-reach and timed up-and-go tests, motor scores on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, and number of falls.
Tai Chi benefits patients with Parkinson’s
By TARA PARKER-POPE
Tai chi, an ancient martial art characterized by slow, flowing movement and meditation, helps improve balance and movement control for people with Parkinson’s disease.
The finding, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the latest study to show the benefits of tai chi for people with chronic health problems. Past studies have shown that tai chi reduces falls and depression among the elderly, and lessens pain for patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia.