News From the Front: Key Takeaways from the World Parkinson’s Congress, Part II (PT and Exercise: The “PATH” Forward)

The World Parkinson’s Congress brings together Parkinson’s patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers and advocates from all over the world every three years to update the community on the latest developments in research and living well with the disease and to inspire us all to keep fighting. The Fourth WPC was held in Portland, Oregon on September 21 – 23, with over 4,500 in attendance. Last week I posted about a roundtable discussion on diet, exercise and supplements that made a lasting impression on me, but today I want to highlight an off-the-schedule group that used the occasion of the WPC to advance a cause that has consumed the lives of several like-minded individuals.

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Click to sign the petition!

PD Gladiators was organized almost three years ago to draw attention to the emerging research on the beneficial effects of exercise and physical therapy on PD and to make PD-specific group exercise available to people with PD and their care partners. One of the central themes of the World Parkinson’s Congress was the importance of daily exercise and movement to people with PD.The number of new studies confirming the improvements in quality of life and slowing of disease progression are multiplying, and researchers are beginning to focus on finer points, like the differential effect of types of exercise, optimal dose, impact of social support in group exercise classes, and removal of barriers to exercise by PwPs.

A huge takeaway from the WPC for me was the emergence of a group called PATH (ProActive THerapies for PWP) as a force calling for international unity in ensuring the best exercise and therapeutic programs are made available to every person with PD beginning at diagnosis. PD Gladiators has joined this movement initiated by leaders of community-based programs in Tucson (Becky Farley/Parkinson’s Wellness Center), Cleveland (Karen Jaffe/InMotion), New York (Pamela Quinn/Parkinson’s Movement Lab) and Canada (Jillian Carson/ParkinGo), and we hope to drive change by demonstrating to Parkinson’s advocacy and support groups, leading researchers and clinicians, medical associations and insurers what people with Parkinson’s want and need. We met with some of the bigger players in the Parkinson’s arena and gained some momentum that, with your help, could propel thought into action!

If you agree that more can be done to create a proactive community model that integrates healthcare, fitness and wellness for people with Parkinson’s, please sign PATH’s online petition and make your voice heard! There is strength in numbers–please share this link with everyone you know with PD or who cares about someone with PD and ask them to sign.

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