Parkinsons Disease and Feldenkrais
Many people with Parkinson's Disease are finding that the Feldenkrais Method can be a useful way to find new ways to regain movement.
Ernie Adams wrote, "For a person with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the natural rhythm and flow of perception, feeling, and movement is disrupted. There is a disconnection between the intention to move and the ability to start or complete an action. Routine automatic behaviors, such as those involved in walking, speaking, breathing, swallowing, and facial expression, become difficult or unavailable."
Many people with PD are frustrated with the typical generic prescriptions of “exercise therapy’,’ “fall prevention,” or “gait training,” and want to find additional ways to help themselves. There has been an upwelling of political advocacy and fund raising in the last few years to increase research and awareness of PD by nonprofit organizations, such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Complementary medicine and mind-body approaches, such as the Feldenkrais Method, are becoming more widely recognized as significantly beneficial to people with both orthopedic and neurological conditions.
The Feldenkrais Method influences brain and behavior through a learning process involving movement exploration, trial and error, and problem solving. With the Feldenkrais Method students develop their ability to attend to internal (proprioceptive ) as well as external and environmental feedback. Children learn to lift their heads, crawl, roll over, sit, stand, walk and talk using this same process. Rather than “correcting” or “showing’’ the student how to do something, the practitioner presents possible choices that may help the client solve the problem for herself or himself. These ‘choices’ are carefully designed movement sequences that can be adapted to the student’s specific needs. The student decides what feels right and what works. It is a self-organizing learning process, rather than a prescription to follow a generic exercise regime. The Feldenkrais Method offers persons with Parkinson’s Disease a way to discover and implement action patterns that can enhance functional ability. It will be different for each student. The goal of the practitioner is to create the optimal conditions for learning. (click to read more)
Irene Pasternack speaking at a Parkinsons Recovery conference
A short (3.5 minute) video version of the presentation can be viewed -- click the yellow square.
In 2010, Irene Pasternack of Seattle spoke with a radio program on Parkinson's Recovery. In this program she describes how you can use the Feldenkrais Method to improve your balance, prevent falls, cope with freezing, maintain facial mobility, speech volume and swallowing, and find greater comfort and ease in day-to-day activities.
The show includes a short Feldenkrais lesson to improve posture, comfort and stability in sitting. In addition to making you feel more comfortable, this lesson helps improve the mobility of your neck, head, and eyes, and has a direct impact on your balance in standing. (The broadcast is 89 minutes: click to go to the page and hear the presentation)
Matt Zeppelin of Denver has been providing support for persons with Parkinsons for some time, including a 4-hour workshop. On his website he has audio versions of the four lessons in the recent workshop. He writes, "The lessons build on each other thematically, and you may hear me make reference to a prior lesson from time to time, but they are also intended to stand alone." Click to go to his website.