A Physical Therapist’s Experience Treating PD

I met Jason Kimber when he responded to my recent piece in the Tribune about challenges in PD treatment. Jason worked with PWP for five years in South Florida. He recently relocated to Tampa and loves living here.  As our conversation at the Oxford Exchange deepened, I realized Jason has a lot to say about growing personally as we respond to the disease.

He said this about his treatment philosophy: “I believe in a holistic, synergistic approach to treatment, which includes body, mind and spirit. I incorporate massage and stretching techniques into my program to address rigidity and anxiety that PD patients encounter.”

I was taken with his larger message and asked him to expand on it for a post on this blog. Here is one physical therapist’s take on growing with PD:

“When Gil asked me to write a post for him about the treatment of Parkinsons Disease from a therapist’s perspetive, I thought about how personal PD is for me and how devastating it can be. Two of my grandparents, my dad’s mom and my mom’s father, both succumbed to PD.

“I used to be really angry about it. How do I write about something that can be such a terrible blow, such a life changing event, and yet be uplifting at the same time? The answer is that over the years my perspective has changed from angry and bitter to hopeful and inspired.

“I am not here to sugarcoat. PD is a hard diagnosis to deal with. Many of my patients have told me about the soul searching they did when they got the news. Why did this happen to me? What did I do to piss God off? How am I going to end up? Those are the questions people wrestle with, particularly early on.

“It usually goes one of two ways. First, people either fall into a deep depression and do nothing, or they get motivated to fight back. I tell you, as a therapist, and as a coach, there is hope. So don’t despair. You have options.

“I have been working with PD patients for five years and have ten years experience as a PTA and massage therapist. I have seen miracles happen. I don’t say that it is easy. When you find the right program, you will work harder than you thought possible.

“You will sweat, and you will be challenged. But it is also fun and you will see positive changes. You will have fewer off days. Your balance becomes better. You will notice improved reaction times and improved coordination. People tell you that your posture is better or they stop telling you to speak louder because they can’t hear you. It is possible to get your life and your voice back.

“What is the key? Rigorous, whole body movement exercise that utilizes components of boxing, yoga, balance training, as well as stretching. Those take your body through atypical movement patterns that can help to retrain the brain.

“There are four components to improved neurological performance. The first is emotional. You have to feel good about yourself. Words and thoughts have power. They shape how we think and they shape our behavior. It is up to you to choose. Do you want to feel better? If the answer is yes, you have to do something about it. Exercise is the best antidepressant there is.

“The second component is coordination. Taking the body through atypical body movements is a great way to increase the coordination needed for safe performance of regular activities of daily living. The third component is strength. You need strength to safely perform as well. The fourth component is cognition. Study after study shows how exercise can improve our cognitive faculties.

“So this is the bottom line. Yes, you have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Yes, it is a difficult road. But it is a road that can be traveled with dignity and honor.
It takes dedication and commitment. It takes getting up and doing the work even if you feel like crap. It is a possible and reachable goal to live life on your terms again, so get moving!”

Jason Kimber is a PTA, LMT, Certified Health Coach with over 10 years experience.
Certified in LSVT Exercise Program. He can be reached at 561-410-1022 or jasonpta93@yahoo.com .

Fight PD with Free Piano Lessons

The University of South Florida and the University of Miami – Schools of Music are collaborating on a new project to examine the effects of a summer intensive piano training course on memory performance and motor outcomes in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. They are recruiting for an experimental group (training group) and a control group (no training).

Eligible participants will complete three training visits: pre-training, post-training, and a one-follow up visit, to examine memory performance and motor performance. Members of the experimental group will receive a two-week intense piano course piloted last summer with aging individuals and found to be successful in improving cognitive performance. All materials are included. There is no cost to participate.

Classes are scheduled from May 16-27th
Classes are held at the USF School of Music (Room 216 – Piano Lab).

Contact Dr.Jennifer Bugos at bugosj@usf.edu or 813-517-9625 to see if you qualify.

A Light Note on Dark Chocolate from Parkinson’s News Today

The battle against Parkinson’s disease may be getting sweeter, with a new study underway seeking to understand if concentrated chocolate supplements could help alleviate the disease’s symptoms. A team of researchers from Dresden University of Technology, Germany, are busy conducting tests on 30 participants to further understand the benefits of phenylethylamine, a compound found in cocoa that has been linked to dopamine upregulation.

Parkinson’s disease causes a gradual loss of nerve cells and drop in levels of dopamine, eventually provoking involuntary tremors that can severely interfere with quality of life. Chocolate supplements contain as much as 85% cocoa, and the Dresden researchers hope to prove it to have non-pharmaceutical benefits for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

In the brain the compound is thought to act more as a neuromodulator than a neurotransmitter in that it binds with presynaptic vesicles and occupies the spaces that normally takes up dopamine. This causes a rise in free-circulating dopamine, which then boosts dopaminergic transmission.

In the study participants will be given 50 grams of either white chocolate, which has zero cocoa, or dark chocolate. The test will take place twice a day for one week, with the second week of the test involving other types of chocolate. This short experiment should help shed more light on the symptomatic differences between the two tests.



2 thoughts on “A Physical Therapist’s Experience Treating PD”

  1. Gil,

    Quite a great spread in Tampa Times this morning.

    Sorry I never got to talk to you other night. I am going to cycling on Tuesday, will you be there?

    You were great at meeting. I was impressed with your boxing.

    Good and interesting article you wrote as always. Amy


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