“Just like riding a bicycle” is anything but.
Cycling may allow persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD) with freezing of gait new freedom of movement and access to exercise. Often, cycling function is preserved people living with Parkinson’s who experience difficulties with slow, shuffling gait. This is an example of kinesia paradoxica, where individuals who typically experience severe difficulties with the simple movements (walking) may perform complex movements easily (cycling). Here is an example,
Video Part 1: a man with severe tremors in his arms, shuffling slowly and unsurely down a hallway, stumbles and falls.
Video Part 2: the SAME MAN riding a bicycle with perfect movement, coordination and balance.
… check it out!
(Snijders AH & Bloem BR (2010) Cycling for freezing of gait. New England Journal of Medicine; 362:e46)
The reasons for this is not yet clear… some hypothesis include cuing .. the rhythmic pressure of the pedals acts as a tactile cue and thereby facilitates movement.
And another study notes that tandem cycling, where a person with Parkinson’s is forced to keep pace with another healthier (the key is faster!) cycling, boosted nerve connections between the primary motor cortex and thalamus (measured with MRI), which is vital to co-ordinated movements (and is impaired in Parkinson’s).
(Ridel, Vitek & Alberts (2009) Forced, not voluntary, exercise improves motor function in Parkinson’s disease patients. Neurorehabil Neural Repair; 23:600)
Though people still need to consult with their physician before starting cycling, and be aware of sudden off-times, balance and other complex issues that could lead to an accident. This is still another exciting way in which people with Parkinson’s can get out and GET MOVING! much love.
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