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Taking a Careful Look at Apathy: It Could Be Motor Hesitation

apathy

Depression is often associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), as is apathy. But there may be a subtle difference between the two. At the risk of oversimplifying, let’s define depression as a state of sadness and loss of interest, and apathy as an apparent lack of motivation. Put sadness and low motivation together and the result looks like someone who has stopped enjoying life. But linking the two together may be a mistake when PD is involved because what looks like a lack of motivation may be the result of motor hesitation and difficulty with set shifting (changing from one motor activity to another). I have seen this motor hesitation in my own life. I feel stuck; not because of a lack of desire but rather an inability to move. It requires a careful examination to recognize the difference.

In a previous column, I talked about scenario looping breakdowns in connection to freezing — a common PD motor symptom. Apathy with PD folks may be linked more to scenario looping breakdowns than to a mood disorder. With PD it speaks to the “unwillingness” to act. But with a breakdown in scenario looping, it may appear as the unwillingness to act when it is actually a form of freezing due to an organic neurological condition. Combine this with the “flat affect face” or facial masking that can come with PD and it can appear to the observer as apathy. A careful look may reveal that often it is not. It is a manifestation of scenario looping breakdowns.

Scenario looping is the brain’s ability to loop through scenarios, exchanging possible actions or responses, until the best course has been determined. This happens with use of language and with motor actions. In every case, the scenario has a starting point. If there is no external cue from the environment to get started, we call that spontaneous initiation; an example is engaging in speech with your partner. You wouldn’t always want to wait until your partner speaks first or provides an external cue. In a normal relationship, each person will often initiate speech spontaneously without external cueing. Patients who have damage to areas of the brain responsible for scenario looping will frequently have problems with spontaneous speech. Does this mean that they are apathetic?

Spontaneously starting a new motor sequence may be difficult for some PD patients. Another example: My partner wants me to put up a new curtain rod. This involves a series of motor tasks: getting the tools and step stool, removing the old curtain rod, and using small screws. These actions involve the use of fine motor skills which are always difficult for those with PD. The curtain rod has been leaning against the wall for a week. Is it apathy that prevents me from engaging in the task? Is it fear? It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a physical resistance to move my body in the direction of that given sequence of motor actions. PD patients often have motor action hesitancy, and this may be misinterpreted as apathy. In a chapter of “Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management,” Lisa M. Shulman and Mackenzie Carpenter say that great care needs to be taken when ascribing the symptom of apathy to a PD patient, and that more research is necessary.

I need to be taking that careful look, to be clear in my mind that this is motor hesitancy. Doing so will ensure that scenario looping breakdown does not become apathy in my mind, or in the minds of those who care for me. There is a risk of mentally interpreting the motor resistance as “he doesn’t care.” The distinction is very important, and I spend time in mental contemplation making the distinction clear. Muscle hesitancy and difficulty with initiating motor sequences is not apathy. Understanding the difference between apathy and scenario looping breakdown is an opportunity to reframe and enlighten. Taking the time to contemplate on the difference is time well spent.

Write a comment and tell me if you see a difference between apathy and muscle initiation in your own life. Do you have suggestions on how to use this distinction to improve your quality of life?

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Taking a Careful Look at Apathy: It Could Be Motor Hesitation appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Taking a Careful Look at Apathy: It Could Be Motor Hesitation

apathy

Depression is often associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), as is apathy. But there may be a subtle difference between the two. At the risk of oversimplifying, let’s define depression as a state of sadness and loss of interest, and apathy as an apparent lack of motivation. Put sadness and low motivation together and the result looks like someone who has stopped enjoying life. But linking the two together may be a mistake when PD is involved because what looks like a lack of motivation may be the result of motor hesitation and difficulty with set shifting (changing from one motor activity to another). I have seen this motor hesitation in my own life. I feel stuck; not because of a lack of desire but rather an inability to move. It requires a careful examination to recognize the difference.

In a previous column, I talked about scenario looping breakdowns in connection to freezing — a common PD motor symptom. Apathy with PD folks may be linked more to scenario looping breakdowns than to a mood disorder. With PD it speaks to the “unwillingness” to act. But with a breakdown in scenario looping, it may appear as the unwillingness to act when it is actually a form of freezing due to an organic neurological condition. Combine this with the “flat affect face” or facial masking that can come with PD and it can appear to the observer as apathy. A careful look may reveal that often it is not. It is a manifestation of scenario looping breakdowns.

Scenario looping is the brain’s ability to loop through scenarios, exchanging possible actions or responses, until the best course has been determined. This happens with use of language and with motor actions. In every case, the scenario has a starting point. If there is no external cue from the environment to get started, we call that spontaneous initiation; an example is engaging in speech with your partner. You wouldn’t always want to wait until your partner speaks first or provides an external cue. In a normal relationship, each person will often initiate speech spontaneously without external cueing. Patients who have damage to areas of the brain responsible for scenario looping will frequently have problems with spontaneous speech. Does this mean that they are apathetic?

Spontaneously starting a new motor sequence may be difficult for some PD patients. Another example: My partner wants me to put up a new curtain rod. This involves a series of motor tasks: getting the tools and step stool, removing the old curtain rod, and using small screws. These actions involve the use of fine motor skills which are always difficult for those with PD. The curtain rod has been leaning against the wall for a week. Is it apathy that prevents me from engaging in the task? Is it fear? It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a physical resistance to move my body in the direction of that given sequence of motor actions. PD patients often have motor action hesitancy, and this may be misinterpreted as apathy. In a chapter of “Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management,” Lisa M. Shulman and Mackenzie Carpenter say that great care needs to be taken when ascribing the symptom of apathy to a PD patient, and that more research is necessary.

I need to be taking that careful look, to be clear in my mind that this is motor hesitancy. Doing so will ensure that scenario looping breakdown does not become apathy in my mind, or in the minds of those who care for me. There is a risk of mentally interpreting the motor resistance as “he doesn’t care.” The distinction is very important, and I spend time in mental contemplation making the distinction clear. Muscle hesitancy and difficulty with initiating motor sequences is not apathy. Understanding the difference between apathy and scenario looping breakdown is an opportunity to reframe and enlighten. Taking the time to contemplate on the difference is time well spent.

Write a comment and tell me if you see a difference between apathy and muscle initiation in your own life. Do you have suggestions on how to use this distinction to improve your quality of life?

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Taking a Careful Look at Apathy: It Could Be Motor Hesitation appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Tangled Up with Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease

dementia

Sherri Journeying Through

A reader recently posed the following question: “Why are there never any comments on dementia in regards to Parkinson’s disease? It is very real, and 40 percent of Parkinson’s patients deal with it.”

So, I began looking into it. My answer could have been, “Because I don’t want to think about that stuff.”

The idea that this disease could dominate my mind (as opposed to taking over my “brain”), among the other things it’s already taken from me, is frightening. And it’s a real possibility.

It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will develop dementia. It takes about 10 years from the onset of PD to develop dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In those with PD dementia, “plaques” and “tangles” are present. Plaques (not the kind dentist removes from your teeth) are deposits of a type of protein that form around nerve cells. These little monsters begin to cling to one another and form clumps, plaques, which prevent nerve cells from sending messages to each other properly.

Tangles, not the kind you comb out of your hair, are formed of tau protein, found in nerve cells. They are either on their way or have made it to death row. They bunch together, twisting around each other and forming tangles of nerve cell fibers. While tangling up the parallel strands of tau protein nerve cells, they fall apart, disintegrate, and cripple the cells’ communication system.

While this is going on, unawares to the patient, the plaques and the tangles continue to gather inside of the brain, causing other nice and healthy nerve cells to eventually wither away and die a silent death, leading to shrinkage in the area of the brain in which these little monsters had their fun fest.

Plaques and tangles present further complications in people with Parkinson’s, as these are the hallmark brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

I warned you. I told you we didn’t want to think about this stuff. But, unfortunately, it’s a part of the reality of Parkinson’s disease we must be aware of, not so we can worry and fret, but so that we can receive treatment sooner rather than later.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Tangled Up with Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Enduring Through Parkinson’s Disease

endure

Sherri Journeying Through

Someone once said, “Life is hard.”

Someone else said, “Life is hard, and then you die.”

Another said, “Life is hard, but God is good.”

That’s what I’m holding on to — the belief that although life is indeed hard, God is so very good. 

You awake refreshed to the sun on your face through the bedroom window. Outside, a nest of newly hatched finches wait for their morning feed. The moment you step out of bed, the hard part begins. The part where you remember that the car died last night; where you get to work early only to find out you’ve been laid off; where you receive a phone call filled with disturbing or life-altering news.

You step out of bed to conquer the first hurdle of the day, then face another day of hurdle-hopping gone awry. The frustration, grief, disappointment, and despair ooze into the tiny crevices of your heart and permeate your spirit.

Sound fateful? Fateful and familiar and — dare we admit it – even hopeless? Hopeless as though you will never crawl out of the hole you’re in. A very dark place strewn with heartache, hurt, loneliness, and grief. Unexpected tragedies and unfulfilled expectations. It can appear as if our lives are desecrated by these negative feelings, and sometimes they don’t just seem to be – they are.

While we experience heartache and grief as we journey through death and disease, we are reassured that we don’t travel alone. While we walk uneven roads and pass through deep, dark valleys as we run the race set before us, we need to remember this: We have a God who will never leave us, forsake us, or forget us.

Life is hard, but as one of my favorite Christmas cards reads, “The best days are yet to come.” Days filled with unquenchable joy. We thought we couldn’t endure a life with Parkinson’s disease, but we are enduring because He is journeying with us. Never leaving us, never forsaking us, never forgetting us, always with us. Just as He promised.

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Enduring Through Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Foot Problems as an Early Sign of PD: Oh, What a Drag It Is!

foot drag

Search on the internet for early signs of Parkinson’s disease. Surprisingly, you will not find foot drag on most of the lists. Yet, Ali Samil, in the chapter “Cardinal Features of Early Parkinson’s Disease,” in the book “Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management,” lists foot drag as an important early symptom.

I have been dealing with foot drag for a few years — that squeak of the sneaker on the kitchen floor when the foot drag catches, scuff marks left behind. While at a professional conference, the foot drag caught the top edge of a stair just as I was headed down, and down I went, grasping the handrail to rescue an awful fall. Recently, it has been much worse, and oh, what a drag it is now.

Reflecting on it, it seems almost impossible that I could seriously hurt my foot walking on a flat, carpeted surface with no obstacles in the way. But that is exactly what happened. Walking barefoot on a carpeted floor, my foot dragged, and then my big toe jammed into the carpet — HARD! I screamed, tears flowed, and I fell to the floor weeping from the pain. The toe turned a nice purple shortly thereafter, but luckily nothing was broken. I don’t walk barefoot anywhere now, except for a few steps in and out of the shower.

I am surprised that there is not more mention of foot drag in the lists of early PD symptoms. If it is a cardinal early symptom, then both patients and care providers should be given the heads up (or maybe feet down), along with some guidelines on how to adjust.

If a patient does have this symptom, then perhaps it doesn’t show up all the time, but rather only during off periods and deep fatigue. If the patient has a favorite pair of shoes, then perhaps signs of the foot drag can be seen on the wear pattern in the shoes.

The indications of foot drag problems don’t have to be as dramatic as my story before they become something that needs attention. My attention is given to the footwear I purchase, limiting my walking during deep fatigue, and carefully watching my feet when changing surface levels (such as a curb on sidewalks).

Maybe there are readers out there who have dealt with foot drag and have a story to tell with suggestions about how to cope. Next time someone says to you, “Quit dragging your feet on this,” tell them about this column.

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Foot Problems as an Early Sign of PD: Oh, What a Drag It Is! appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Broken Crayons Are Not Useless

garden, broken crayon

Sherri Journeying Through

My son and his family were preparing to move. Was I willing to let them go? Yes. Did I want them to go? No. But that was my selfish desire. I have realized that the harder I try to hold on to what I want, the less I allow God to intervene, not just for my good, but for my best. In the process, I have learned not to hold on. And in some instances, I actually do that. In other instances, though, it can be very hard, especially for a fixer. And I am a big fixer.

I want everyone to be happy. Smiling. Content. But that’s not reality. The reality is that it is not up to me to fix everything; it’s not up to me to make everyone happy. 

I realized yesterday that I tend to coddle people. I also realize the world’s happiness has not been made my burden. I am accountable only for myself in how I react to the circumstances that this world throws at me, such as how I will deal with having Parkinson’s disease, what the financial burden will be, and choices others around me will need to make regarding my health. On and on my list goes.

But how I choose to deal with what life throws at me is what matters. Will I choose to smile, knowing that my God is bigger than all of this? Or will I whimper and whine?

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I want to be strong in every way. I want to support others. Sometimes we need to give “tough” support, the kind that says, “Enough! Get up, live your best, and be thankful that God has given you another day!”

Whether it’s another day walking slow and stiff or another day with the ability to weed my flowers without pain, I want to give it my best.

Sometimes we feel like a broken crayon. No longer valuable. No longer pretty. But broken crayons are still usable and make beautiful colors. We just need to let go of what is keeping us down and give it to God. Let us be usable, like a broken crayon that God is using to complete a beautiful work of art in our broken lives.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Broken Crayons Are Not Useless appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Seeking Relief, but Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Why do I feel stuck?

As my Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms worsen, my desperation to find relief increases. I constantly tell myself that if my symptoms don’t progress from where they are now, I can handle my dealt cards. However, I feel my ability to stay strong will be increasingly challenged as time goes on.

Between a rock and a hard place

The idiom “between a rock and a hard place” is an American manifestation of a phrase found in ancient Greek mythology. In Homer’s “Odyssey,” Odysseus must pass between Charybdis, a treacherous whirlpool, and Scylla, a man-eating monster on a cliff. My situation is not as dire as facing Charybdis or Scylla. However, at times, I do feel that way.

When I consider my potential supplements, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am so overwhelmed with all the treatment and “cure” options (medical as well as naturally occurring) available for PD. They come to me via emails from well-intentioned friends, social media, and postings to my PD columns and blogs.

Although I continue to do the holistic things within my control to battle this disease (mainly gluten-free and vegan diets as well as regularly exercising, reducing stress levels, and getting plentiful sleep), I don’t think these actions alone are enough to battle this disease.

Taking prescription medications (my Scylla) goes against my grain. I also do not want to load up on vitamins and herbs (my Charybdis) since I feel these supplements end up passing right through me without having any impact on my symptoms. They drain my wallet, and I end up hopelessly wishing each item will be my miracle remedy. I’ve intended to avoid medications and other forms of treatment by continuing with my current diet and exercise regimen. However, this no longer appears to be an option.

What about medications?

While I do use Sinemet (carbidopa-levodopa) and Neupro (rotigotine), I am concerned about the long-term effects of these medicines on my body. I am also not a fan of Big Pharma remedies. I do not believe it is in the best interests of pharmaceutical companies to find a cure for PD because their monthly revenue streams would collapse if patients no longer needed to take daily medications to keep symptoms at bay.

Even with a prescription drug plan, medication costs are astronomical. Although some pharmaceutical companies may offer aid to help cover the cost of their medications, it is often short-term help. In September, a Sinemet shortage happened in the United Kingdom and other countries, which added to the stress of prescription medication reliance.

‘Naturally occurring’ remedies?

Many have jumped on cure bandwagons, giving so many of us suffering individuals false hope. I believe most of these claims are from shysters and snake oil salespeople without scruples or compassion. These companies and individuals post such convincing testimonials about how some obscure herbal remedy or supplement has cured their PD. These frequently appear on my PD blogs and articles.

I have also read articles that I believe come from valid sources concerning the efficacy of the following treatments:

I tried each of the above individually, and none has resulted in any discernible symptom relief.

There are so many challenges when trying to decide on “naturally occurring” supplements to take. Should it be taken orally? If so, in capsule or liquid form? What about intravenous? Which brand to choose? All may not have good quality control, so who do I trust? Such is the dilemma one faces when choosing the “naturally occurring” path.

Other options?

I saw a TV commercial for a local practitioner offering therapy for PD using one’s own stem cells. Their website had a compelling video of a patient’s testimonial on how much this treatment had helped him. The cost? $10,000. If this treatment was guaranteed to help my symptoms or stop my progression, I would beg, borrow, and steal to come up with the $10,000 to do it. Since there are no guarantees, this option is a nonstarter.

Stuck in the middle

PD symptoms vary greatly from one patient to another, and certain treatments will work for some while not for others. As such, like many others with PD, I am still searching for that elusive miracle that will stop the disease in its tracks and allow me to feel normal again.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Seeking Relief, but Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

How to Use Computer Gaming as Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Computer Gaming

The brain is a plastic organ continually reshaping itself in response to the stimuli it receives and the way those stimuli are processed. The old adage “use it or lose it” applies even in the face of a challenging disease like Parkinson’s.

Computer gaming can help with brain training by exercising the brain to help moderate the effects of PD. For computer gaming to be efficacious as therapy, it must be implemented with careful attention to finding the right fit between the demands of the game and the therapeutic needs of the PD patient.

Recent research on video gaming and treatment for PD shows it can help with physical issues such as gait and balance.

The key to successfully using computer gaming is to find the right match of game for each person, as well as the appropriate difficulty level. The game must be challenging, but not so challenging that it becomes discouraging. It also must be rewarding and enjoyable. (There is that dopamine factor to consider.) Gaming has a “sweet spot,” like Goldilocks, in which you find just the right fit. I found this balance in the game “Shroud of the Avatar,” which I recommend for people with PD.

It took me a while to find the right video game — years, actually. “Shroud of the Avatar,” or “SotA,” is that game! It can be played at various levels. Not only can you find the sweet spot for your own style of playing, but also you can move that spot around depending on whether it is a good day or a bad day.

The game has a solid ethical foundation built on virtue and clean gameplay (no foul language). Playing SotA for 10 to 20 hours a week exercises the brain and the body — use it or lose it — while having a good time doing it.

SotA is just the right game for those with PD. It offers exercise for geographical memory, hand-eye coordination, speech, and problem-solving (scenario looping) at a variety of levels. It is a place where impulsivity can be applied with fewer consequences than in the real world. It is a place where the grouch can go when T.O.O.T.S. needs to be applied.

Have the urge to buy? Then earn virtual money and buy virtual things. Frustrated? Then enter the virtual world and work it out on some monsters. Have pain with your PD (a difficult problem for me)? Spend time in the virtual world of SotA to help manage the pain with less medication. Want a sense of accomplishment? Help build a community while also making yourself a strong avatar.

I have built a “sanctuary” for Parkinson’s folks inside SotA. It is a place where your avatar will find support and fellowship. Within this sanctuary is a place where you can find that sweet spot while contributing to building a support community. You can find this virtual sanctuary inside SotA in a town called Grumridge, just east of the city Aerie. You can see it on the map shown in the cover art of this column.

It may seem counterintuitive to say that fighting skeletons and building a virtual community is relaxing, but this has been my experience. Conversations I have had with others indicate that this experience is common. I often have clarity of mind while playing, and some of the ideas for these columns pop up in the middle of the game. That dopamine effect happens when successful within SotA, and the game offers many ways to experience success. You can’t get much better than having good, clean fun while slowing down the progression of PD!

One more note: I do use adaptive equipment to help me play the game. I have a large trackball on my dominant hand and a keypad with a thumb joystick on my other hand. You can see this illustrated in the cover art. It takes a little while to learn how to use this equipment, but the reward is a greater success rate inside the world of SotA (more dopamine!).

I also have a headset with a microphone. Plenty of opportunities exist to speak with others within the world of SotA, and the community of players is the best I have encountered in the gaming world. As far as I know, this is the first time a virtual support community within a game was developed for people with PD. Oh — and the game is free!

I look forward to seeing you there. My avatar name is Dr. Wiz. Let us build something special together.

PS: Thanks to the all the avatars (especially Ajumma Kim) and the game developers for their help building the Grumridge sanctuary.

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post How to Use Computer Gaming as Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Staying Active Versus Exercise

exercise in Parkinson's

Sherri Journeying Through

Whether you ask a group of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) or your neurologist about the best thing you can do to keep PD at bay or slow down its symptoms, the most common response will likely be “exercise.” Some may say, “Stay active.” But do you realize that staying active and exercising are two different things?

Just about anyone can exercise — jumping jacks, touch your toes, jog around your living room, lift a couple of cans of green beans — but it takes sheer determination to stay active when you are battling a little monster like Parkinson’s disease.

Being active involves more than movement on your part. It includes a state of mind to persevere, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and to not give up even when you feel like quitting. Being active involves a positive outlook.

It is easy to fall into a state of apathy or depression when fighting a chronic illness, but to try to pull yourself out of one can be downright hard. The gray cloud of despair can last days, weeks, months, even years. Staying active can help sidestep those dark times.

Sitting and watching television can sound relaxing, but when flopping on the couch is your go-to place when you’re feeling down, it may take an act of God to get you back up. Depression feeds depression. Apathy feeds depression. At times you will have to force yourself up off that couch and do something. But force you must. You must stay active. You must not allow yourself to succumb to dark days. Fight and fight hard. Get your friends to join you by coming alongside them. Show them you need them because they do want to be needed at this time in your life.

Exercise is essential for a Parkinson’s patient. Walking, boxing, bicycling, tai chi — these are all terrific forms of exercise as you strive to live healthily with PD. However, to determinedly exercise with PD, you have to “master” staying active. Keep your mind on an even and positive keel. You must tell yourself that you can do this thing; you can battle this little monster. You must say to yourself that as this disease strives to master you, you will fight tooth and nail to push forward and stay active.

Following are some techniques I use in my battle to master PD:

  • Keep your mind active. Do word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku games, and more to keep your mind alert.
  • Don’t give in to fear. 
  • Make positive thinking a habit. Carry scripture verses or positive thinking quotes in your pants pocket and read them throughout the day.
  • Don’t give up and don’t give in: mentally, physically, relationally, emotionally, or spiritually.
  • Avoid temptations like empty couches and TV remote controls.
  • Fight the dark days. Don’t let them get the upper hand.
  • Don’t go it alone. Get connected via a support group.

I am in no way an expert in “staying active” but I do make a valiant effort to do so. I have found the above practices to be helpful in dealing with Parkinson’s and hope they are useful to you too.

***

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Staying Active Versus Exercise appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The ABCs of Parkinson’s Disease: ‘L’ Is for Lists

lists

Sherri Journeying Through

A continuation of the “ABCs of Parkinson’s” series.

Bucket lists are like New Year’s resolutions. We create lists of goals we hope to accomplish, things we want to change for the better, and places we’d like to see. We make pros and cons lists to help us with important decisions.

Lists remind us of important tasks or events. They assist us in goal completion, time management, and grocery shopping. A bucket list consists of experiences and achievements one hopes to fulfill before death calls. That’s the bucket list’s finish line: death. Not dying, but death, because in dying the act of living carries on, even though the quality of life may not be up to our standards. 

Some wonder about the origin of bucket lists. Not me. I just like the idea. But what I don’t like about New Year’s resolutions is how I feel like a loser when I “flake out.” Guilt heaps up. Shame spreads on me like rotten jam on moldy bread. I guess we all heap guilt and shame upon ourselves when we renege on our commitments — but you get my point.

By creating a bucket list, we can often fool ourselves into thinking it will lead us to enjoy life more, accomplish more, make positive changes, and see the wonders of the world.

But what if we have a chronic illness and can’t complete the items on the list? Should we give up on our dreams?

We can feel defeated or choose to make a new list. 

I choose a new list. 

I choose to keep a positive attitude even when the walls of disability seem to close in. We may not be able to do all that we once hoped to, but we can find a different version of our dreams. 

Maybe we can’t take our grandkids to the beach anymore, but we can have picnics in the backyard near the paddling pool. Perhaps the zoo is off-limits because we can’t walk far, but we can rest our legs (and our pride) in a wheelchair. We’d like to take our family out to a movie theater. Instead, why not invite our loved ones over for pizza and a movie at home?

You’ll notice that most of the suggestions on my “new” list involve others. That’s because our loved ones are the most important part of our lists. No list should be without them if we’re going to live well while we are still living.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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