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Could exercise prevent falls in Parkinson's Disease sufferers

02 October, 2008

New research into prevention of falls in people with Parkinson’s disease will be presented at the Parkinson’s Australia National Conference in Sydney Olympic Park from 16–17 October 2008.

Dr Colleen Canning from the University of Sydney says it is important for people to realise that people with Parkinson’s disease, of any age, can have problems with trips and falls.

“Despite optimal medication, people with Parkinson’s disease experience frequent and reoccurring falls, often with devastating consequences,” says Dr Canning. “The primary aim of the study is to determine the efficacy of an exercise program in reducing the rate of falling in people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Two hundred and thirty (230) participants who are living in the Sydney community will be recruited to participate in the study, which will run from 2008 – 2010.

“Previous studies have shown that poor balance, lower limb muscle weakness and freezing while walking, were independent predictors of falls in those with Parkinson’s,” explains Dr Canning. “This study suggests that developing an exercise program could reduce the rate of falls if it is designed specifically to target deficits in balance, strength and freezing.”

Case Study

Louise Young, 44, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year after undergoing a series of tests.

“Parkinson’s disease affects my everyday life because my body is no longer my own,” explains Young. “I never know how I'm going to be from one day to the next. The side effects of the medication cause other problems with my health and everything I do takes longer and I get tired much quicker. I feel robbed of my skills and talent. I no longer walk with ease and confidence. I have a plod and awkwardness to my gait now and walking is no longer the simple pleasure it was.  

“Because I have no visible or obvious tremor, my appearance belies my physical state and people cannot fully understand or appreciate what I am experiencing.”

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological condition, second only to dementia. In Australia today, there are over 80,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease and twenty-five more are diagnosed each day. To date there is no cure.

Parkinson’s Australia National Conference

The Parkinson’s Australia National Conference will also showcase information on the latest research surrounding Parkinson’s disease, including depression, quality of life, and other topical research items. The conference is designed to be a vital event for those with Parkinson’s, their carers and family members, allied health professionals, researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and anyone else with an interest in Parkinson’s disease.

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