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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is caused by a degeneration of the cells that produce dopamine in a specific area of the brain. Symptoms develop slowly over the years and the progression is different from each person due to the complexity of the disease. Common motor symptoms are muscle rigidity, gait and balance problems. 70% of people may have a visible tremor. Non-motor symptoms exist as well. There are over 13,300 British Columbians living with PD. It affects people from all walks of life. Research continues to find the cause and cure of PD. Top treatment includes medications and exercise. Being proactive about treatment and incorporating a healthy active lifestyle has proven to make a big impact on slowing the progression and increasing quality of life. This is why IMPACT Parkinson’s was created.

What is the Parkinson’s Wellness Centre?

IMPACT Parkinson’s is an Incorporated Non-Profit Society. It was created to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) including their families and friends. It is the first of its kind in BC, a space where people can access multiple Parkinson specific programs in one convenient location. For example, the centre offers various exercise programs, including it’s core program Rock Steady Boxing New West (and now Fraser Valley), Yoga, T’ai Chi, Let’s Talk Loud (group voice therapy with a Speech Language Pathologist), health/wellness workshops and social/cultural activities.  IMPACT provides a place where people with Parkinson’s understand, encourage and support each other. A sense of family and camaraderie makes everyone feel welcome.

What is Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease?

Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD) is defined as a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease between the ages of 21 and 40, although some studies include subjects up to the age of 50. YOPD accounts for 35% of all cases of Parkinson’s. In YOPD there is an increased risk of having an inherited form of Parkinson’s, but this is still only a small proportion of YOPD. The needs of those with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease differ from those with later-onset Parkinson’s.

  • People with YOPD usually experience a much slower progression of their disease.
  • People with YOPD are often able to live a full life after their diagnosis, including a full-time occupation and other activities such as sports and even, in some cases, giving birth to healthy babies.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is an option you may want to explore.

Source: Parkinson Society of British Columbia

My biggest fear with having Parkinson’s is falling, how can I prevent this?

People with Parkinson’s are at a high risk of falling due to problems with balance, rigidity, and slowness of movement — the primary motor symptoms. Serious falls can lead to head injuries, broken hips, and other broken bones. Complications from these injuries may require hospitalization or long-term rehabilitation. Some keys to preventing falls include exercise, good medication management and a safe home environment. The best way to stay independent and prevent falls is through exercise to build strength, flexibility and balance. IMPACT Parkinson’s offers a yearly Falls Prevention Workshop and One-on-One Mobile Clinic with the Fraser Health Falls and Injury Prevention Team.

What are Complementary Therapies for Parkinson’s?

Complementary means therapies that can be used alongside your usual medical treatment, not as a replacement. They tend to take a more holistic approach, aiming to treat the whole person including mind, body and spirit, rather than just the symptoms. These can include T’ai Chi, massage, acupuncture and yoga among others.

Yoga therapy for people with Parkinson’s has been shown to visibly reduce tremors and improve the steadiness of an individual’s gait. Yoga is one of several beneficial complementary therapies for Parkinson’s helping to increase flexibility; improve posture; loosen tight, painful muscles; build (or rebuild) confidence; and through these benefits, enhance the quality of life.

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