What is Parkinson’s Disease? Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative condition of the central nervous system that results in a slowing of movement, tremors, postural abnormalities, loss of facial expression, rigidity, impaired balance, and in some cases alterations in behavior and thought. The source of impaired function results from the loss of a population of dopamine-producing cells in a region of the brain called the ‘substantia nigra’, and the loss of the orchestrated release of dopamine has a profound impact on movement.
But ping pong is a therapeutic exercise that has been shown to improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients. Based on the concept of neuroplasticity- the brain’s capacity to make new neurons and connections through challenging physical exercise- the PPP method benefits the brain by engaging motor and cognitive skills such as visuospatial attention, motor planning/sequencing, processing speed, and executive skills such as strategy formation and problem-solving. Most importantly, the physical and cognitive engagement is fun and provides a valuable opportunity for social interaction.
Elana Clar is a board-certified neurologist specializing in movement disorders. In this episode, she tells us more about the disease and how best to manage it.