I used to teach an exercise class at a local hospital. It was called “Exercise for People Living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)”. It turned out to be a fascinating learning experience. Not for the students but for the teacher. Up until that point I had only worked with a handful of personal training clients who were living with PD. I familiarized myself with the needs of that population in terms of exercise, but it was only when I taught the class that I really explored deeper.
I sifted through dozens of medical websites for insight and advice. I also looked into the various organizations that focus on Parkinson’s Disease for fitness related topics. However, one area I was not expecting to receive information was Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As it turned out there was a local professor of TCM who had suggested there exists a correlation between lower limb trauma and Parkinson’s Disease. She used a form of acupuncture and massage called Tui Na (Twee-Nah) to treat her patients with notable success. Tui Na is perhaps the oldest form of massage originating from Ancient China. The hypothesis, as I understand, is that when someone experiences significant trauma to the lower leg, the channels of energy (nerve pathways?) are disrupted and this potentially leads to Parkinson’s Disease. Tui Na attempts to restore the proper energy channels. The outcome is a reduction of symptoms of the disease and, in some cases, allows the person to reduce doses of medication.
When I first read this I tried to find more information about the correlation in medical websites and the PD websites. I did not find anything referring to the hypothesis. However, when I asked the two classes of students in the hospital almost every single student said they had experienced some kind of lower leg injury. I was stunned.
Since then I have had several clients with Parkinson’s Disease and every single clients has a history of lower limb trauma; no exception. Therefore every program I design for these clients involves restoring function to the feet and legs; even if no symptoms of lower leg issues are present. Get the feet to feel and communicate with the rest of the body and some truly amazing things can occur. I am not saying that this is in any a cure or treatment. I will leave that for the doctors. I only know that movement is an ingredient in the recipe for success.
Here is something I recently found when searching on the internet: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10513097/