Kelowna, I’m bringing some Parkinson’s yoga and Time Out for Caregivers to you!

After spending 4 years in Kelowna completing my PhD, the Kelowna PD community is near and dear to my heart! Just ask about 70 of them about getting hooked up with an EMG machine and spending the day being monitored… I definitely couldn’t have done my PhD without them!

… that’s why I’m coming back to Kelowna and bringing some yoga with me. Friday November 15th and Sunday November 17th I’ll be running two yoga workshops specific to PD at Trinity Yoga Center (#6 – 3818 Gordon Drive).

Space is limited, so please register early by sending me an email (kaitlyn.p.roland@gmail.com) or calling me at 250.589.2046

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I’m also in town for a Parkinson Society BCTime Out for Caregivers!” Event on November 16th from 1-4pm… so care partners, come join me for discussions on self-care and resilience!

TOFC_kelowna_nov16

… can’t wait Kelowna! much love.

Parkinson Wellness Recovery – Exercise 4 Brain Change!

Last week, I went to a talk by Becky Farley, PhD, MS, PT, sponsored by Parkinson Society BC. The topic was “EXERCISE AS MEDICINE” and she discussed some of the work she does at her Parkinson Wellness Recovery gym in Tuscon, Arizona.

About Dr. Becky Farley

Becky became involved in Parkinson’s disease during her post-doctoral work when she investigated the muscle activation deficits underlying bradykinesia in people with PD. She developed the LSVT® BIG exercise approach and standardized training to targets the PD symptoms of slow/small movements bradykinesia/hypokinesia.

About PWR!

The aim of Becky’s program is to use exercise as a physiological tool to optimize brain function (i.e. neuroplasticity) and health. Her program is based on: early intervention, continuous access and research-based exercise programs. PWR! also trains clinicians and fitness professional with techniques to focus on PD-specific exercise.

Her exercise tips:

  1. “start from a position of power!”. Your body needs to be ready, your brain needs to be focused and the task needs to feel important (or fun!) for change to occur. Make your exercise engaging!
  2. Use equipment (i.e. bungees, ropes, balance boards, harnesses) to get the experience of the full movement safely (especially in people with PD who have difficulty balancing etc.), then start to take some of those supports away as you progress and apply that experience to everyday movements!
  3. For people with PD, especially those with dyskinesias – seek exercises that gain core stability
  4. Sensory feedback – i.e. pacing, metronome, music – can help push you to exercise faster, harder and with more smooth movements
  5. Prime” your body by starting your exercise program with progressive aerobic training, then follow up with skill acquisition-type exercises.
  6. Focus not only on increasing muscle mass, but want to increase useable muscle and focus on functional movements in your exercises… not just “curls for the girls” but include things like:
  • lateral rotations, cross-body, sequential movements, extensions, quick position changes, side-to-side weight shifting)

How does exercise help brain function in Parkinson’s?

Becky also presented some of the latest research on the benefits of exercise on brain function.

Exercise can help increase brain volume, improving working memory and attention. Also, it increases blood vessels and leads to more neurotrophic (growth) factors (like “gatorade” for the brain!) and a more supportive environment for neurons. Exercise also increases the redundancy in brain synapses. Redundancy is good! If you have some synapses that aren’t working, you will have back ups to replace them!

Specifically in PD, research tells us that exercise increases survival rate, increases physical functional ability, and improves cognition! It can help “repair” the dopamine system in early/moderate stages of PD by increasing dopamine D2 receptors and helping your brain make better use of remaining dopamine.

some references of interest:

“How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease?” Speelman, Nature Reviews, 2011

“Effectiveness of intensive inpatient rehabilitation treatment on disease progression in parkinsonian patients” Giuseppe et al., Neurorehabil Neural Repair, 2012

“Does vigorous exercise have a neuroprotective effect in Parkinson disease?” Ahlskog Je, Neurology, 2011

It was a great talk, and I feel lucky to have been there and met with her. I’m also excited to hear her thoughts on how yoga can fit within this model…

Please check out her PWR website and see if there are any trained-clinician in your area! much love.

a lesson on acceptance from the fantastic mr. fox

there comes a point where we all have to face a challenge or we encounter a roadblock… and sometimes it takes stepping up to the challenge and doing the work, while other times the only thing to do is practice acceptance.

I read this quote from Michael J. Fox, in Parade magazine (READ HERE) on acceptance, and found it not only relevant to persons with chronic diseases, but also to the challenges we all may face at one time or another in our lives.

On accepting Parkinson’s.
“I don’t look at life as a battle or as a fight. I don’t think I’m scrappy. I’m accepting. I say ‘living with’ or ‘working through’ Parkinson’s. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. I look at it like I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through.

Pretty amazing perspective, from someone who not only has been ‘living with‘ Parkinson’s for 20 years, but has also single-handedly (well, his foundation) become the largest private funder of Parkinson’s research in the world!

April 1st marks the start of Parkinson’s awareness month… and promoting the Parkinson’s exercise revolution!! We’ll be exercising at this month’s Kelowna PD Support Group (April 5th, 7pm), and every Tuesday during PD Yoga classes at Moksha Yoga Kelowna, so don’t forget to join me!

Here’s a great PSA MJF did during a recent Canucks game…

and a new announcement from Parkinson Society BC

and don’t forget, in whatever challenges you face you are not alone. Much love.

self-care

The Parkinson Society British Columbia (website here) has a much needed initiative this year to support workshops for caregivers of persons with Parkinson’s disease,

Time Out for Caregivers.

Lonnie Ali caring for her husband, Muhammad, who has Parkinson’s disease

I was asked to be the keynote speaker at their second workshop in Kelowna on May 26th and was so honored to be able to share the afternoon with these amazing men and women.

I was able to relay to the participants about the importance of their health and how there are buffers that reduce caregiver burden, especially :

  1. being prepared to be a caregiver
  2. fully accepting and finding meaning in the caregiver role, and
  3. establishing a quality relationship with the person you are caring for
The main cause of PD caregivers burden is not always the physical tasks they have to do, for example helping a person in and out of bed, feeding, more household chores, etc., but the mental worry… about safety of their spouse or if they have to make big decisions alone, like when to sell the house and/or move into assisted living, legal powers of attorney, etc.

when your direction in life changes… http://www.cartoonstock.com

Some of the information I hoped to convey was that caregivers need to care for themselves!
  • Don’t suffer and try to set boundaries, if there’s a task that’s too much or something you don’t want to do – ask for help! find support! If you need some “me-time” or “me-space” create that. Be assertive! This may involve finding your voice or an advocate.
  • Don’t give up on activities you like to do! Modify so you can still keep active and interested in life together… remember the disease doesn’t define you!
  • Sustain yourself… caregivers are like lifesaving equipment, you don’t want to burn out. It’s like when you’re on an airplane and you are support to put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping others.

  • find someone that can cheer you on and lift your spirits… and don’t forget to celebrate all the small joys. The facilitator for the Kelowna Parkinson’s support group tells everyone to write down THREE things you are grateful for everyday. Doesn’t matter if they are big, small or inbetween! Then, at the end of one year you will have over ONE THOUSAND things to be grateful for… pretty amazing, eh?

check out this novel that chronicles gratitude by Ann Voskamp

I understand this is easier said then done, but getting caregivers to focus on self-care is a great start! I am so grateful for the participants who attended the workshop and to the Parkinson’s Society for starting this initiative, you can contact them at: info@parkinson.bc.ca for further information. A copy of my presentation slides are available by clicking here… please share!


and this is not only applicable to PD caregivers, but everyone…when was the last time you checked in with yourself to see how you were really doing? much love.