Updated: Jul 23
Recently, in my endeavours to grasp more fully the "Why's" behind the movement I teach people with Parkinson's (PWP), I enrolled in Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!) online certification course for physiotherapists and movement professionals .
PWR! was developed by DR. Becky Farley, a neuroscientist who focused her PWR! training on movement qualities shown to be affected by PD~ Rigidity, Bradykinesia, Incoordination and reduced self awareness / proprioception.
DR. Farley took those 4 main areas to target in a movement practice and placed them them into 1 of 4 movement categories to cover in each lesson
PWR! Up works Antigravity extension, is any movement requiring moving the trunk and limbs away from the ground.
PWR! Rock focuses on weight shifting , necessary for most every movement we do day to day; walking, turning, sitting, standing 'Impaired ability to shift weight or rock in different directions is a major contributor to freezing and falling' (1)
PWR! Twist involves any movement where one part of the body- head, torso or pelvis/legs are moving in opposite directions from another part. twisting supports our ability to change directions, get in and out of bed, drive safely. ' When a twist is performed rhythmically, it helps reduce rigidity and pain and makes transfers and daily activities easier and more efficient.' (2)
PWR! Step is any transitional movement, locomotion from one position or spot to another. Benefits of smooth transitions include increased walking speed, improved balance and coordinaton, reduced shuffling.
One of the many interesting facts I learned during the 2 day course is how essential aerobic exercise is for students with PD. Along with reducing stress and activating motivational systems ( an area many PWP struggle with) aerobic exercise has been shown in animal research to help improve dopamine neurotransmission. I now include more aerobic activity in my 1 hr classes with PWP, along with exercises for balance, cognitive health, muscle strength and mobility, fine motor skills and proprioception.
I have been very fortunate to have been working with a number of students with Parkinson's over the past few years on a weekly basis. The insights they share, as well as the determination and humour they embody have deepened my appreciation for the power movement holds. There is a saying, 'Motion is Lotion', and while I agree, Motion is also an often overlooked powerful Potion for a life flourishing with connection, meaning and yes, maybe even a little joy!
(1) PWR!MOVES Instructor Certification Workshop Manual