Parkinson’s Disease and Neuroplasticity
by Lana Gelb, MS., Ageless Grace Trainer and Educator
Prior to 20 or so years ago, the brain was thought to be rigid in many respects. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is an example of this thinking. Perhaps now it should be “use it or lose it”!
We now know, that, through the science of Neuroplasticity, the brain has the natural ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural pathways and connections and is capable of change even after childhood, on into maturity, and even old age. Brain reorganization occurs by forming new neural pathways to bring about a needed function. This is put in place in the brain by mechanisms such as “axonal sprouting”, where undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were severed or impaired. Neuroplasticity also means undamaged axons can also grow nerve endings to connect with other undamaged nerve cells. For example, if damage is done in one hemisphere of the brain the other undamaged hemisphere may take over some of its functions. This is achieved by stimulating the neurons through certain activities, like Ageless Grace, where the brain compensates for damage by forming new communications between intact neurons.
This discovery has enormous implications for the Parkinson’s community.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms include physical, emotional and brain issues – Ageless Grace meets all the requirements of a highly effective Neuroplasticity model and is ideally suited to Parkinson’s disease as it addresses the 5 functions of the Brain and all the functions of healthy aging in the 21 tools. Ageless Grace addresses kinesthetic learning as well as Cognitive, Dementia and Apathy issues.
To know that a Parkinson’s disease patient has some hope, and that symptoms and progression may be helped by rewiring the brain, can be life changing.
By practicing Ageless Grace, a Parkinson’s disease patient can enhance attention span, increase levels of working memory, speed up the brain’s processing power and thereby stimulate healing and improve poor balance and other movement disorders. Studies have shown that learning to tango can use the brains natural plasticity to make positive changes and Ageless Grace combines all the aspects, like learning to tango, necessary for Neuroplasticity to take place and is therefore a perfect model for Parkinson’s disease.
Neuroplasticity Benefits of Ageless Grace for Parkinson’s Disease. Here are a few examples:
Dystonia, Rigidity and Postural Instability
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder, common to Parkinson’s disease in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting, twitching and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Muscles tend to be rigid and treatment is difficult and has been limited to minimizing the symptoms of these disorders usually with medications. Tool #1 Juicy Joints; Tool # 18 Shake it up Baby; #15 Balancing Act: address and help to minimize these symptoms.
Bradykinesia refers to slowness of movement and is the most characteristic clinical feature of Parkinson’s disease. The slowness of movement is most clear when initiating and executing actions or activities that require several successive steps and require fine motor control. In Ageless Grace, Tools #2, #4, #11, #13 #17 and #19, have both relatively fast movements while others are slower, requiring fine motor control – all access muscle memory formed in youth, maximizing neuroplasticity potential.
Micrographia means “small writing.” It is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease, which affects many voluntary and involuntary muscle movements through the loss of the brain chemical dopamine. #3 Spelling “B” addresses motor-function and kinesthetic learning associated with this Parkinson’s disease symptom while many tools such as Dance Party – Tool #21 are uplifting and thereby increase dopamine levels.
DEMENTIA & COGNITION
Right-left Brain Coordination and Hand- Eye Coordination are important in treating Parkinson’s disease and are found in many of the tools – in particular Tool #4 Front Row Orchestra, #6 Try Chi, #3 Spelling “B” and Tool #5 Zoology, which all stimulate Cognitive Function, Memory, Recall and Imagination.
Akinesia is one of the classic symptoms of moderate to advanced Parkinson’s Disease, and manifests as temporary episodes of “freezing” during movement or difficulty in starting movement such as walking. Since the disorder progresses as a result of nerve damage that causes injury to the brain, the nervous system does not send any signals for making movement. The prevailing perception of Akinesia is that it is a consequence of dopamine depletion. However, some recent studies suggest that serotonin and norepinephrine are also depleted in people with Akinesia. Most Ageless Grace tools, if not all, address these motor symptoms and the hormone depletions and Parkinson’s disease patients who regularly practice Ageless Grace report relief and “happy,” “good’ and “relaxed” feelings- “natural highs” from the practice which raise the levels of these neurotransmitters and have huge Neuroplastic implications for the nervous system.
Hypomimia is also known as facial masking. It refers to the face being less expressive than usual or “looking blank”. Some of the symptoms are caused by the loss of so-called automatic movements. These include blinking and smiling; Exercise Tool #14 Saving Face is recommended to stimulate Facial Muscles, and relieve Headaches and TMJ, which are the result of constant tensing of facial muscles.
Conclusion: Neuroplasticity is a new science that has great potential for the future to help with social, psychiatric, personal, emotional and brain disease problems by recognizing that the brain is a plastic organ that can be retrained, grown, and repaired by using techniques such as Ageless Grace – well-suited to Parkinson’s disease and other Neurological diseases.