Beneath a spell | Wholesome life | Thetribune
In “The Silver Chair” by CS Lewis, the main characters are called to Narnia to find the missing Crown Prince. Years earlier, an evil witch kidnapped the prince and bewitched him. Once a day, for an hour, the prince woke up from the spell and realized who he was. But during that hour he was chained to a silver chair and could not escape. When rescued from the chair and the power of spell, this is what he had to say:
Then he turned and looked at his rescuers; and that something wrong, whatever it was, was gone from his face. “How long have I been in the witch’s power?” “It has been more than ten years since Your Highness was lost in the forest on the north side of Narnia.” “ten years!” said the prince, running a hand over his face as if to rub away the past. “Yes, I believe you. Now that I am myself, I can remember this enchanted life, although while I was enchanted I couldn’t remember my real self.”
My true self. These are words I have heard from people with Parkinson’s disease. “I’m stuck in my body and can’t get out.” “I want the real me back.”
For years we didn’t know how to protect the body from the freezing and rigidity of Parkinson’s. Now, with groundbreaking research, we are finally beginning to understand what happens to the brain and how it captivates the body.
Rigidity, tremors, and incoordination are symptoms that the brain is not making enough dopamine. As a result, communication with the body decreases and the ability to produce normal movements ceases. Medications are available to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, although none will actually reverse the disease. Now we know that a combination of exercise and medicine can help protect the brain, reverse the damage, and optimize physical performance.
We call it “exercise as medicine”. And it’s key to waking the body under the spell of Parkinson’s.
According to the Parkinson Disease Foundation, up to one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined. About 60,000 people develop Parkinson’s disease in the United States each year.
The Y is partnering with Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR!) To develop a comprehensive program of neuroplasticity principles that integrates the latest research on exercise and wellness. The Parkinson’s Exercise Program (PEP) provides a supportive training environment to optimize brain recovery and repair. We use “exercise as medicine” to improve the quality of life so that people with Parkinson’s can begin to break out of the spell and start moving again.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s disease, there are a few courses on our Parkinson’s exercise program worth taking and seeing firsthand how exercise can optimize brain recovery and repair. Learn more at ppymca.org/parkinsons.
Gloria Winters is a physiotherapy doctor who specializes in orthopedics and movement physiology. She is the Chief Medical Officer for the Pikes Peak Region YMCA focusing on integrating health care into the community. Contact them with questions or ideas on topics at [email protected]