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Parkinson's patients may benefit from exercise

Harold Mandel's picture
A human brain

Researchers say exercise helps to prevent falls in patients with Parkinson's.


Parkinson's disease is a very debilitating condition. A serious problem for patients with this illness is falling.

The University of Stavanger reports that patients with Parkinson's may benefit from exercise. Exercise can help these patients prevent falls.

According to statistics about 25 percent of patients who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's had a fall in the first year. It was previously thought that falls came primarily during the later stages of this illness.

Simple tasks can cause the brains of patients with Parkinson's to short-circuit

Even very simple tasks can cause the brains of patients with Parkinson's to short-circuit. When the signals in the brain get crossed the patient may simply fall over. Falls in the early stage of this disease should be taken seriously because this means these patients are at a greater risk for future falls.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease which has dramatic affects on the nervous system. Many people with this illness have problems walking and maintaining their balance. Tremors and muscle rigidity are also commonly seen with Parkinson's.

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Approximately 1 percent of people over 60 years old have Parkinson’s. In people over 70 years old Parkinson's is seen in 4 percent of of population. This disease becomes more and more common with age.

Medication which replaces dopamine in the brain is used to treat Parkinson's. People with this illness no longer produce adequate levels of dopamine naturally. The medication helps to prevent some symptoms of Parkinson's but does not seem to help prevent falls.

Exercise can help Parkinson's patients prevent falls

It seems that exercise can help Parkinson's patients prevent falls. One study showed patients benefited from Tai Chi, which is a gentle Chinese martial art. Exercises which strengthen the lower limbs and balance exercises can also help. Patients should try to find exercise which they enjoy doing.

Drug-induced parkinsonism is often caused by drugs prescribed by psychiatrists

Psychiatrists regularly prescribe neuroleptic drugs which cause blockade of dopamine receptors in the brain. The Parkinson's Disease Society reports approximately 7 percent of people with parkinsonism have developed their symptoms after they are treated with particular medications. This type of parkinsonism is called ‘drug-induced parkinsonism’. Yet the psychiatrists continue to prescribe neuroleptics as if they are giving out candy.

The National Parkinson Foundation reports this illness is a neurodegenerative brain disorder which progresses slowly in most patients. The brain in these patients slowly ceases to produce a neurotransmitter which is called dopamine. A person has decreased ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions as dopamine levels get lower.

At this time there is no cure for Parkinson's. Treatment can help lessen symptoms and keep the quality of life of patients as high as possible. Exercise seems to help with this.