Calmness wisest way to confront adversity
Copied from The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Weekly News Update
The Columbus Dispatch - I’ve been practicing aikido for 42 years and Parkinson’s disease for 10.
Aikido is a nonviolent Japanese martial art and a study in peacemaking. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease of the brain.
The two have much in common.
Many years ago, while visiting Los Angeles, I met a friend of a friend.As we sat eating lunch, he casually said: “You know, I could kill you as you sit there.”
I smiled and said, “Yes, of course you could,” and I kept eating.
I knew he wasn’t being hostile, just expressing a fact.
Astonished that I understood, he explained that he was a Vietnam War veteran — and that his comment was his way of testing me. He had killed people, so he knew that the line between life and death is thin.Combat soldiers learn to live on the edge of life and death, he said; when they return home, however, they struggle to re-acclimate into everyday society, which pretends that death won’t happen.
He was stunned that a non-veteran knew that edge.
I told him about my martial-arts training and how knowing the edge was possible even though I hadn’t killed anyone.
Two concepts underlie aikido as I practice and teach it.
First, emotions and attitudes are physiological events in the body, and, to receive an attacker in a peaceful way, the body must be trained to do so.
Second, the body moves with better strength and balance in a state of inner kindness and gratitude.
Practicing calmness when attacked carries over to stresses that aren’t attacks.
Such as Parkinson’s.
When my disease was diagnosed, my initial reaction was shock.So my practice for the next six months was to say “Parkinson’s” to myself many times a day and train my body to feel calm instead of fear.
Gradually, my stillness and compassion took the unease out of the disease.
The real function of martial arts, I think, is to help us accept our fundamental weakness.
I can block a punch, parry a kick, escape an armlock. But I can’t control the weather, a presidential election or whether I have Parkinson’s.
Once we build up enough personal power, we can accept the unacceptable somewhat calmly.
Having Parkinson’s is inconvenient, but, if I get frustrated or irritated at it, the tremors increase and the disease seems to worsen.
The more I meet Parkinson’s with an attitude of compassionate engagement and relaxed strength, the better my body functions.
The questions are: What do I choose to become as Parkinson’s eats away at my brain? Do I cultivate habits of fear or anger about my condition or habits of power and compassion?
In the end, then, Parkinson’s and aikido aren’t too different.
Parkinson’s, of course, will never be a popular path toward self-improvement.
The same approach, though, can be applied to everyday difficulties — whether personal, interpersonal or international.
The world would be far different if people didn’t respond to difficulties with a rush of fear and anger.
Think of all the killing and aggression that we would ward off if each of us took responsibility for his or her body and hurtful reflexes.Peace would be possible. Paul Linden, 67, is a resident of the Clintonville neighborhood.
AAN: Tai Chi Helps Balance in Parkinson's
Cpied from The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Weekly News Update
medpagetoday.com - Parkinson's disease patients who practiced tai chi had larger limits of stability and better sensory organization scores than those in a control group, researchers reported here.
Tai chi training was significantly associated with improvements in scores on the Sensory Organization Test from baseline (mean change 7.28, 95% CI 5.75 to 8.80, P<0.001), according to Fuzhong Li, PhD, of Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, and colleagues.
And, compared with patients who were taught only stretching exercises, those who had tai chi training had significantly improved limits of stability from baseline (mean change 9.41, 95% CI 6.75 to 10.74), Li noted during a poster session at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
"Tai chi originated as a martial art, but it's very focused on being centered," Li told MedPage Today. A slow, meditative, physical practice, tai chi requires participants to extend and reach from their center of gravity, and then return to that center.
Previous studies have shown a correlation between tai chi participation and improved sensory organization, but these studies have not looked at how the "training results in positive change in sensory integration of balance responses," according to the authors.
The study measured the sensory integration of balance responses and changes in limits of stability after a tai chi training intervention in a sample of 130 mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease patients. Participants had a mean age of 69 and had a disease stage of 1 to 4 on the Hoehn and Yahr staging scale.
Patients were evenly randomized to a tai chi training intervention or a stretching exercise control group, which each met twice a week for 24 weeks.
Outcomes of the study included scoring on the Sensory Organization Test, which tested participants in a variety of conditions such as with eyes closed. Participants' limits of stability included posture excursions in eight directions. Measures for these outcomes were taken at baseline and at 3 months and 6 months.
In addition to the significant changes in sensory organization and improvements to limits of stability, Li also noted that participants in the tai chi training saw modest gains in lower-body strength, although he did not report figures for this outcome.
Li noted that retention of participants in the tai chi intervention was high -- roughly 85% -- at 6 months. He added that the intervention improved outcomes at low cost, requiring no equipment and with minimal supervision.
He also noted that future research should use a larger patient population, measure fall risk and prevention, and include measures of patient-oriented outcomes.
Limitations of the study included the small size sample and the lack of specific measures for patients when they were on or off their medications.
Martial Arts As Preventive Medicine
Tai Chi Program Offers Significant Gains In Balance, Stability Among Parkinson's Disease Patients
Copied from The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Weekly News Update
Medical News Today - An Oregon Research Institute (ORI) exercise study conducted in four Oregon cities has shown significant benefits for patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease. In an original article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), ORI scientist Fuzhong Li, Ph.D. and colleagues report that a tailored program of twice-weekly Tai Chi training resulted in improved postural stability and walking ability, and reduced falls in the participants.
"These results are clinically significant because they suggest that Tai Chi, a low-to-moderate impact exercise, may be used, as an add-on to current physical therapies, to address some of the key clinical problems in Parkinson's disease, such as postural and gait instability. Since many training features in the program are functionally oriented, the improvements in the balance and gait measures that we demonstrated highlight the potential of Tai Chi-based movements in rehabilitating patients with these types of problems and, consequently, easing cardinal symptoms of Parkinson's disease and improving mobility, flexibility, balance, and range of motion," noted Dr. Li.
In the 4-year project funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the investigators randomly assigned 195 patients to one of three exercise groups: Tai Chi, resistance training, or stretching. The patients participated in 60-minute exercise sessions twice weekly for 24 weeks.
The results of the study showed that the Tai Chi group performed consistently better than the stretching group in how far they could lean in any direction without losing balance as well as demonstrating better levels of directional control of the body and walking ability (i.e., longer stride length). Tai Chi participants also outperformed those in the resistance training group on the balance and stride length measures. Finally, Tai Chi training was shown to significantly lower the incidence of falls compared to stretching and to be as equally effective as resistance training in reducing falls.
Impaired movement, especially the loss of ability to maintain standing balance, adversely affects function and quality of life in patients with Parkinson's disease. With progression of the disease, patients lose stability and have trouble walking, difficulty managing activities of daily living, and experience frequent falls. Exercise is an important part of the management of Parkinson's disease because physical activity has been shown to retard the deterioration of motor function and to prolong functional independence. However, research on alternative forms of exercise, such as Tai Chi, that could improve balance, gait, and function in patients with Parkinson's disease is scarce.
The Tai Chi program developed by Dr. Li consisted of six Tai Chi movements integrated into an eight-form routine that focused on weight-shifting, controlled-displacement of the center of gravity over the base of support, ankle sway, and front-to-back and sideways stepping. Natural breathing was integrated into the training routine.
"There are a number of practical advantages to using Tai Chi to improve motor dysfunction of Parkinson's disease - it is a low cost activity that does not require equipment, it can be done anywhere, at any time, and the movements can be easily learned. It can also be incorporated into a rehabilitation setting as part of existing treatment. Similarly, because of its simplicity, certain aspects of this Tai Chi program can also be prescribed to patients as a self-care/home activity," Dr. Li added
Note by John Pepper
I have come across several patients, who have found that Tai Chi helps them very much. The most recent one was Zoe Hall, from the Kennilworth Support Group, who has found it most helpful.