I Kieser to Manage my Parkinson's Disease

Client Name: Jeff Leeuwenburg
Centre: Brighton

Jeff met with an Exercise Physiologist at Kieser to help him manage symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Both Jeff and his wife, Rina, were surprised with the effects of consistent strength training for his condition. Here is his story as told by his wife:

"Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a progressive disease and everyone who has it experiences it in different ways. It can develop quickly in some and slowly in others, with the common physical symptoms being sporadic loss of mobility (often referred to as “freezing”), rigidity, poor balance, poor posture, and tremor. There is currently no cure for PD, although there are some doughty laboratory mice who are working hard to find one. Experiments and breakthroughs with said mice are often reported in the PD newsletters and websites. We have come to think of them as a team we call “the Parkinson’s Mice” and have a suspicion they may be related to Franky Mouse and Benjy Mouse from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, who worked for 10 million years on a project to find the answer to the Ultimate Question.  This turned out to be “42” but we hope PD Mouse will eventually find a more useful solution than that - with the help of the scientists and researchers who devote their lives to the endeavour.

Jeff first went to Kieser with back pain, referred by his GP.  No doubt it was related to the effects of PD, especially on posture. The Kieser team recommended he consult with one of the Exercise Physiologists for an ongoing program to manage PD.  We did not need convincing as we have read about neuroplasticity and the benefits of exercise, especially for a condition like PD. While the PD medication significantly improves mobility, the brain and body can still forget how to do simple things such as getting up from a chair or turning over in bed and have to relearn the movements through conscious repetition. Because of poor mobility muscles can weaken too, further contributing to the problem.

The first appointment with the Exercise Physiologist was very encouraging and supportive and he put in place a focussed program including the Kieser machines and other gym equipment, as well as devising some home exercises. We were impressed by his understanding of the challenges of Parkinson’s while being very positive about the goals that could be achieved.  

The program has indeed reaped great benefits. The most noticeable improvement has been in Jeff’s ability to go up and down stairs. Previously Jeff had come to avoid any buildings that required him to climb up and down stairs. On one occasion we went to a restaurant at the top of a steep staircase - going up was just manageable, coming down he had to sit down and slide from one step to the next because of his fear of falling. This has been a massive lifestyle improvement - we are about ready to tackle that restaurant again, for the food and the fantastic view!

Jeff’s posture and balance have improved beyond expectation - friends and family remark how much straighter he stands. His general strength too has improved - neither of us would have believed he could learn how to box. On good days his stamina is greater, where he is confident to tackle several activities in one day, rather than just one or none. When having not such a good day, the Exercise Physiologist concentrates on such things as bike riding so the sessions never go to waste. This is a very flexible one-to-one approach that we have only experienced at Kieser. The two half-hour sessions a week are highly manageable as well. We have learned from the Kieser approach about breathing and slow steady movement - and using the right muscles.

Medication management becomes more of an issue in the later stages of Parkinson’s and we hope that the excellent Kieser program and our Kieser Exercise Physiologist will keep Jeff mobile and out of a wheelchair. If PD Mouse comes up with the cheese, we have a feeling that exercise and strength training are going to be part of it!"

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