Medical Breakthrough: Cycling used as therapy for people with Parkinson's

Medical Breakthrough: Cycling used as therapy for people with Parkinson's
2 months 1 day 15 hours ago Wednesday, April 17 2024 Apr 17, 2024 April 17, 2024 2:42 PM April 17, 2024 in News

Researchers think that spin class might be the answer to help those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

The first sign of Parkinson's disease hit 63-year-old Lamont Dorrity early in life.

"My early 50s, so, I was one of the low percentage that got it early, and I had tremors in the mouth and tremors in the hand," Dorrity said.

A deep brain stimulation surgery took care of his tremors, but other symptoms like the fatigue, muscle stiffness, and problems with balance and walking were only getting worse. Until about a year ago, when Dorrity entered a research-backed program called Pedaling for Parkinson's.

"Even the second time I came, after doing the cycling and walking, I felt like my walking was more fluid," Dorrity said.

"Movement is crucial for neurological upkeep," Intermountain Healthcare Exercise Therapist Adam Ballenger said.

Ballenger says the program is not about cycling at a comfortable pace, the benefits come from forced cycling, where participants are pushed to pedal at a high rate of at least 80 RPM's for at least 40 minutes.

The exercise also pumps dopamine into the brain, and participants say it all leads to a noticeable improvement in Parkinson's-related symptoms.

"The biggest challenge is getting up and doing it, you know, getting up and making a difference in your life," Dorrity said.

Dorrity walks out of the class feeling more balanced and confident that life with Parkinson's is a little more manageable now.

Some of the participants saw their Parkinson's-related symptoms improve by as much as 35 percent. It's not a cure, but researchers believe it can slow the progression of the disease.

Unfortunately, the program at Intermountain Health is currently on hold. The exercise therapist and Dorrity stand by the results and encourage more pedaling for Parkinson's patients.

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