A recent study has some good news for Parkinson's patients. Regular exercise has been shown to improve their cognitive functions and memory.
Parkinson's disease is a common movement disorder marked by shaking, tremors, and other difficulties with walking and coordination. A significant percentage of Parkinson's patients will also experience memory loss, cognitive dysfunction and dementia.
Parkinson's mostly affects people older than 65 years of age, although some cases can occur earlier, especially if the condition runs in families. This chronic illness causes a significant disability, emotional, and financial burden to patients and their families. Since there is no cure yet, the goal of therapy is to improve quality of life and functions.
Now there is some good news for Parkinson's patients. In a study from Honolulu presented at a recent American Academy of Neurology meeting, regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory in Parkinson’s patients.
A total of 48 Parkinson’s patients participated in the study for six months. Based on the results, exercising twice a week for one hour should be considered as a part of therapy for Parkinson's patients.
In addition, some earlier published studies indicated that exercise may also improve balance in Parkinson’s patients. This finding is important because dizziness, falls, and gait disorders are a major concern in advanced Parkinson's.
Because of the potential for multiple benefits, a regular exercise program should be integrated in the treatment plans for patients with Parkinson's disease.
Anurag Walia, MD is a neurologist with Neurology and Stroke Associates, Lititz.