Funny how things turn up!
On the morning of the 1st June I read the latest from the Parkinson’s Foundation. It was a report that covered Can We Put the Brakes on Parkinson’s Progression? Essentially it said that diet and exercise were key. I quote:
Making nutritious food the mainstay of your meals and enjoying regular exercise has countless proven benefits. Studies show targeted nutrition may slow Parkinson’s advancement. Eating a whole-food, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet — including fresh vegetables, fruit and berries, nuts, seeds, fish, olive and coconut oils and more — may be linked to slower PD progression. When you live with PD, exercise is also critical to optimal health. In fact, the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project shows at least 2.5 hours a week of physical activity can slow PD symptom progression. Research reveals regular exercise also shows neuroprotective effects in animal models with Parkinson’s.
I showed the article to Jean. Later that morning Jean had her regular visit with Doctor David Tullar at our local Asante hospital. He is described on the Asante website as: David is a certified physician assistant with specialized expertise in neurology. But Jean sees him more as a neurologist in her own mind. I attend the appointment just to listen to David for we find him a most interesting man.
Here are some of the key messages from that meeting:
- Parkinson’s is not a disease, it is a life condition. Just the same as diabetes. One doesn’t call it diabetes disease! These life conditions will be there at the end of life. Some people escape them, some do not.
- Levodopa produces dopamine. It needs to be taken consistently. Levodopa is not taken at night because the brain requires far less dopamine because the brain is far less active. Don’t skip your doses.
- Lifestyle does make a real difference. A non-meat diet and exercise really do make a difference with exercise being key. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week split into 20 minutes a day. Try to do more!
- Having a dog extends your life and there is evidence that this is so. So love a dog and be loved by your dog back in return.
- Make your lifestyle changes as early as you can.
- An excellent resource of information is the Davis Phinney Foundation. The Foundation has an audio download of the book Every Victory Counts. You can also purchase the book from booksellers.
Then David Tullar turned to the question of freezing. Freezing when one has Parkinson’s is the temporary, involuntary inability to move. For Jean this happens occasionally in the kitchen area especially when she goes to turn around. David recommended practising ‘freezing’ where Jean deliberately stops what she is doing and actively ‘trembles’ on the spot.
The other thing was that while the cause of freezing is unknown, David said that the likelihood was that the brain became overwhelmed with extra, different thoughts when Jean was turning. Most likely with other thoughts that were in her inner mind. Such as what she was she turning for? Maintaining a balance? Doing things with her arms or hands?
In other words Jean was thinking about other stuff! All of these thinking processes were exercising the brain, of course, and the amount of brain power devoted to just the business of turning was smaller than it should be.
Answer: Focus on the business of turning first and foremost. Complete the turn and then think of the next item.
For other people who also suffer from Parkinson’s and have different spots in their lives where they freeze, then the advice from Dr. David Tullar is the same. Focus only on what you are doing at that moment.
For example some of his patients freeze when they are walking through a doorway. Answer: Focus on a point that you are walking towards and do not think of anything else.
Here’s a YouTube video on the topic (and it is very short but you will get the idea):
In conclusion, this is nothing more than me reporting back from Jean’s meeting with Dr. Tullar. If this strikes you as sensible advice and you have Parkinson’s then see your doctor responsible for your condition and discuss it with him or her.
Finally a little more about David Tullar from the Asante website:
David is dedicated to providing advanced care to patients of all ages. He has a special interest in evaluating and treating neurological concerns such as headaches, dementia, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Evaluating and treating patients with neurological health issues
- Treating headaches, dementia and movement disorders