Living Well

Diseases of old age, that’s you then.  Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, time to sit down with a wee cover over your knee.  NONSENSE!

By Tracy Mukherjee

Gone are the days where acquired illnesses are confined to older age.  Equally true – gone is the advice to sit down to them.  Get active, get moving, and get living well!

I was privileged in a former life to work in the field of acquired neurological conditions.  Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Stroke, for example.  These conditions affect many parts of the body in many different ways, especially movement.  Most of us will know someone or have a family member who has had/is living with such a condition.  And the impact is huge: not only on movement, but on speech, on motivation, on self-esteem. 

Thankfully, no longer at diagnosis it’s merely a sympathetic smile or a pat of the hand given.  Oh no! Now there are a whole host of therapies and support groups. Plus there are numerous care organisations to help you live well with your condition.

Specialist Physiotherapy

An expert in the field is Fraser Simpson of Simpson Physiotherapy. Fraser’s practice specialises in the treatment of people living with a neurological condition.  Fraser says “The traditional view of helping adults with acquired neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Stroke was very much to be gentle, don’t ‘push’ yourself in case you ‘overdo’ it and hurt yourself. It was always very slow exercises, easy and straightforward. Nothing was challenging and the emphasis has always been on ‘reactive care’ i.e. waiting until there is a problem before intervening.”

I know myself, had I not understood the condition, when my dad was diagnosed, I would have fussed around him.  Done everything for him.  And in doing so would have enabled him to become more sedate, weaker, and more likely to have falls.  

“Frustratingly, it is not uncommon to see people living with PD, stroke or frailty conditions only walking about 15 yards 4 times a day” adds Fraser. “And the rest is spent either sitting in a chair or lying in bed. So, in a 24-hour period, they have spent less than 10 minutes up on their feet!” 

He continues. “The best way to help people living with chronic, long-term health conditions like Parkinson’s, post-stroke and frailty-related issues is to support the person to be as independent and active as possible. This means helping them to do what they can for themselves and setting them up for success. There is a terrific amount of research that shows how exercise is a form of medicine.”

Exercise as a Form of Medicine

So, what CAN exercise do for people living with these conditions?  “Done in the right way for someone with PD or following a stroke, it helps regain and maintain strength, flexibility, and independence and also helps greatly with keeping your brain active and engaged which can help with issues affecting your mood as well.” 

This is not to suggest just how difficult it can be for the person.  Pain, stiffness, weakness and low mood can be such barriers to keeping motivated.  But the results do pay dividends. “We need to flip our thinking on its head to ‘no challenge, no change’” says Fraser. “In particular, for Parkinson’s Disease, doing Neuro Active exercises is an absolute must and has been shown to slow down the need to increase your PD medications over time, particularly when started as soon as possible from diagnosis.”

Fraser suggests that having challenge in the person’s daily and weekly routines, including stretching off tight muscles and moving joints can improve suppleness and keep the person as well as possible.

Seeing Fraser and his team includes getting a thorough history of what you might be having problems with, what challenges there are day to day and what the plan will be going forward.  With his expert team tailoring your therapy plan, new clients may usually be seen once weekly at home for 3 months.  Now that’s a work-out!  

PD Warrior Class

And if you are still looking for a challenge, Fraser and his fantastic team are Glasgow’s only PD Warrior TM Licenced Practice. “We do also have two face-to- face, physiotherapist led, Parkinson’s Disease specific PD Warrior TM exercise classes on a Tuesday and Friday in Milngavie. We offer online access to these classes as well as an online neuro yoga class, online general exercise class, and online TaiChi class that are all free for our client members. Because these are all online, it means you get to work out in your own home and then go about your day without having to travel to and from a venue or clinic, making it super easy to get the exercise you need to keep you in tip-top shape.”

I do often miss that other life.  I loved my patients, loved supporting them to be someone who happened to have had a stroke – not a stroke patient.  The condition should never get to the point where it defines who you are.  Fraser also loves what he does. “The best part of the job is seeing that we can make such a positive difference in someone’s life and knowing that we helped with that. Whether it’s with someone making great improvements following a diagnosis of PD or helping them get their life back after surviving a stroke. We love it when we see our clients succeed and love the feeling we get of knowing that we helped make that difference.”

And so, to those living with neurological conditions, there is help and hope out there.  Go kick some PD butt in the Warrior Class!!!

For help and advice contact Fraser and his team at 
Simpson Physiotherapy

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