Monday, Aug 19, 2019

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Parkinson's patients having fun while managing symptoms

Photographer: James Conkle

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Getting physical with Parkinson’s disease

Physical therapy students lead exercise program to help manage Parkinson’s symptoms

Living with or loving someone with Parkinson’s disease can be overwhelming but the Parkinson’s Exercise Project (PEP!) can help.
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. in Grover Center E216 physical therapy faculty and doctoral students provide a free exercise class instructing Parkinson’s patients on exercises that help reduce disease symptoms. There are group activities focused on producing large movements, improving balance and increasing strength, all offered in a fun and supportive environment.

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, as many as one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s. Although there is no cure for the disease, exercising is a way to help manage symptoms.

This program was created in January of 2013 and spearheaded by Assistant Clinical Professor Brooke Vaughan. With the generosity of The Athens Foundation, the Parkinson’s Exercise Project is poised to help even more people with the disease. In addition to providing funds to promote the program to a wider audience, the grant was also used to purchase much needed exercise equipment.

According to Vaughan, the program was created for patients that she had personally worked with in the clinic who would benefit from additional exercise but were lacking resources.

“The program has served as a valuable asset for both our physical therapy students and people with Parkinson's,” she said. “Educationally, our students have benefitted by applying classroom concepts in a real-world environment and by being introduced to several healthcare issues related to rural patient populations, specifically a lack of preventative and wellness resources.

The Parkinson’s Exercise Project is also allows participants to receive social support from other individuals living with Parkinson’s by sharing stories and disease-management strategies.

For more information regarding the Parkinson’s Exercise Project, contact Brooke Vaughan at vaughanb@ohio.edu.