The Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR) program leads the way in Parkinson's exercise and rehabilitation

 

A word from PWR! Founder, Becky Farley:

My name is Becky Farley, PT, MSPT, PhD and I am the co-creator of the LSVT BIG® exercise program and the Founder and Chief Science Officer of the nonprofit Parkinson Wellness Recovery | PWR! in Tucson, Arizona. 

Our organisation provides educational workshops to train physical and occupational therapists and exercise professionals worldwide to be PD-specialists. Our PWR! Faculty have trained over 10,000 physical and occupational therapists and exercise professionals in the PWR! Curriculum that is updated annually with new research. These professionals learn how to implement research-informed rehabilitation or group exercise programming for persons with Parkinson disease (PwPD) with a Function 1st focus.  Our goal is for them to work together to provide proactive and lifelong access to PD-specific rehabilitation and exercise programming to preserve functional mobility and participation in life!

In 2010, as the founder of PWR!, I launched the PWR! Gym - a model community facility in Tucson, AZ. The goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of my vision that ongoing access to integrated rehabilitation, group exercise and wellness programming may provide the necessary lifelong practice, to put off motor deterioration and to harness neuroplasticity to slow disease progression. Today we have grown into a 16,000 SF facility and offer ongoing rehabilitation assessments and interventions, multilevel group exercise programs and wellness options for life for our members and out of town guests. We even take the PWR! Gym on the road for a unique 7-day intensive for our Annual PWR! Retreat. 

The PWR! Gym recently hosted SYMBYX Co-Founder & CEO, Dr. Wayne Markman and Research and Clinical Services Manager, Dr. Mike Hobbs (Chiro) to educate our rehab and exercise therapy team about research on light-therapy for PwPD. We recognise exercise is not enough and that individuals need “add-on” wellness options for developing a comprehensive personalised plan for dealing with motor and non-motor symptoms and other barriers to lifelong participation. Light therapy is one of those wellness options that can be used stand-alone or combined with exercise to enhance the benefits of exercise and eliminate non-motor barriers to sustained practice and participation. We look forward to building collaborations with SYMBYX to increase access to more rehab and wellness resources for PwPD globally!

DermaCare Laser
DermaCare Laser

Interested in a PWR! training? 
I recently gave a talk about what makes rehabilitation unique and how can we design “skilled exercise” interventions to harness neuroplasticity for greater automaticity in PwPD.  I suggested that the process of retraining functional mobility shares many similarities with coaching open skill sports!  For example, open skill sports require players to perform in dynamically changing, unpredictable, and externally paced environments. And, for all sports there are fundamental skills that must be mastered. In our PWR!Moves curriculum, the “PWR!Moves” are the fundamentals skills to master because they deteriorate in PwPD and interfere with automaticity. The goal of the game is to retrain those skills with a high aerobic demand to maximise neuroplasticity.  

As the movement fundamentals improve in “vigor” and spatial/temporal quality, they are linked together to create meaningful sequences and then progressed further to mimic meaningful real-world challenges required for everyday movements. To exploit learning and automaticity, the physical and cognitive challenge is progressed to incorporate dynamic practice conditions (i.e., varying sequences, directions, positions, environmental context) and executive function demands (i.e., working memory, predictability, attention, visual -spatial, problem-solving). Finally, as the coach, you will leverage “specificity” by personalising the tasks/goals of the game, using different methods of instruction to address the unique motor and non-motor symptoms of PD and incorporating research-based strategies, attention and feedback to motivate and reward each athlete.

 

Resources:

  • Watch the PWR!Moves Video here
  • Learn more about PWR! virtual training courses here
  • Register your interest for UK/EU training courses here

 

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