What is PD Warrior?

What is Parkinson’s Disease? It is a progressive neurological condition that affects movement. It results from damage to the nerve cells in the brain which causes dopamine (a type of neurotransmitter) levels to drop, leading to symptoms such as tremor, muscle rigidity, reduced co-ordination and balance, shuffling gait, involuntary movements, sleep disturbances, fatigue, difficulty thinking and understanding, soft and slow speech, difficulty swallowing, loss of smell, anxiety and/or depression, constipation and urinary incontinence. Symptoms often begin on one side of the body and will likely remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides. There is no cure, but treatments can help to significantly improve your symptoms.

What is PD Warrior? Created by two Neurological Physiotherapists in 2011, it is an intensive exercise-based program which is designed to improve the movement and quality of life of people with Parkinson’s Disease, by increasing their effort, amplitude and dual tasking. It combines both physical and cognitive activities to drive neuroplastic change. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to “re-wire” by forming new pathways and connections. This concept explains how some functions can be relearned through high intensity and repetitive practice. The aim of the program is to have participants driving motor output at 80% of a modified RPE (vigorous activity that causes shortness and breath but still being able to speak a sentence). Therefore, it is recommended as an early intervention strategy for people with early diagnosed Parkinson’s. For those who are more significantly impaired by the symptoms such as having frequent falls or freezing episodes, they can still benefit from the program but the gains will be somewhat smaller. To ensure an individualised program for our clients, the exercises can be carried out at a lower intensity initially and progressed as the therapist sees fit.  The program has been shown to produce some if not all the following benefits:

  • Delay onset of severe symptoms
  • Improve movement, posture and function
  • Increase confidence and energy levels
  • Enhance your thinking
  • Regain control of your life

To find out more information on how a Speech Pathologist can help with communication and swallowing deficits in Parkinson’s patients, click here.