Parkinsons Disease

“Many people assume they know what Parkinson’s Disease is. But PD is actually a wildly varying and frustrating condition that baffles the uninformed, however much they may want to help. I was early-onset-diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 42. I could hardly believe my good fortune when I discovered Claire Umbers of Millstream Pilates to be an instructor specially trained with specific reference to the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Whether you are young, old or in between, I thoroughly recommend anyone with PD to take advantage of her expertise. Claire’s good humour, understanding, patience and properly targeted exercises make for a completely positive and beneficial experience. PD sufferers can’t afford any wasted effort: Pilates with Claire is 100% worth the effort.”

Sarah – Reading

Effecting 1 in 500 people, Parkinsons is a progressive neurological condition. Which means we have no time to waste in helping to work against and manage the symptoms.

Dopamine levels have depleted due to nerve cells within the brain dying and there is currently no cure for this.

Dopamine is required for movement – without it, movement becomes slower with incidents of freezing and muscle tremors can occur. It’s important to say that PD manifests itself differently in every client.

Claire has a special interest in PD as her Granddad was challenged with the condition at a time when very little was know about it and there was no alternative approach in managing the symptoms.

Thankfully, there have been many advancements since then, both in medical approaches as well as alternative approaches. Hopefully one day, we’ll have a cure.

Claire is qualified at Level 3 to work with older clients and specifically those with Parkinsons for exercises planning.

Claire is currently working with Parkinsons UK Oxfordshire to gain subsidies for clients challenged with Parkinson’s who wish to go to a Parkinson’s Pilates specific session. Further information on this will be available from September 2016. These sessions will be small and for those whose symptoms are fairly advanced.

For clients whose symptoms are currently managed with medication, Claire works privately with initially, with the aim of integrating you into a general group session.

There is so much to be gained from working privately as well as being involved in the social side of a group class.

Postural changes occur as a result of PD – Pisa syndrome and Kyphosis can set in to the spine and the muscles set in this position if no action is taken. Shoulders become repositioned and shoulder pain is very common as a result.

When working specifically with PD clients, a lot of the exercises will be focused on trying to strengthen spinal extensors and to regain shoulder range and alignment.

There are simple exercises that you can carry out at home too.

PD brings a lot of anxiety, which further promotes freezing incidents/festination. It’s a vicious cycle.

The breathing in Pilates not only helps to expand the rib cage and the lung volume, which has become constricted due to the postural changes mentioned but also helps to combat the feeling of anxiety this will help you to move more freely and these are techniques you can use on your own.

Balance is a huge issue for PD clients – due to postural changes, confidence and fear of freezing. Pilates exercise work specifically on balance, increasing strength and confidence. Frequently, freezing occurs due to lack of confidence and anxiety from previous falls.

In conjunction with the usual Pilates strengthening and alignment work, Parkinson specific sessions will include music therapy and freezing strategy exercises to help you manage with more confidence and less anxiety.

All the exercises in one way or another help you with activities of daily living such as getting dressed, getting out of a chair and off the toilet! They are heavy disguised to make sure they are fun too!

Pilates offers huge benefits for all these issues, increasing lung capacity, decreasing anxiety, releasing endorphins to make you feel good, coordination, reducing pain by improving alignment and strength, improving balance and allowing you to get to know your body intimately and regaining some control.

You will be stimulating neural pathways and neuron growth, all of which help to maintain movement patterns – helping to feel more in control of your body.

The beauty of Pilates is that it can be chair based, floor based or equipment based – there is no rule book! We just work with the energy levels and the body that’s there on that particular day.

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