(Actually, I have several friends with new books to their name.
This is the first of several shout-outs to those who have done what I've only fancied myself able to do.)
This book changes lives. Not in the way Catcher in the Rye might have done when you were fifteen, but in the change-the-shape-and-abilities-of-your-brain way. Yes, denizens, a book can actually do that. Becky has the research to prove it.
I found Becky Farley, PT, MS, PhD, through a friend of a friend of a friend in the physiatric community. Physiatrists are nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect how you move. I've written about her before, and if you're interested in pictures of the gym and a glimpse into where I was 18 months ago, click through... but come right back... because there's more to this than you can imagine.
She uses a research based exercise program that plays to the brain's ability to change. It's called neuro-plasticity. She's talking about brain health and brain repair.
Yes, brain repair.
And the guiding principle is that it's all FUN!
The capitals are Becky's and they are reflected in her personality. She's got boundless energy and enthusiasm; she's as delighted with my progress as I am. Of course, she's the one standing on two good legs while encouraging me to make bigger and bolder and more powerful movements on my less than stable one and a half legs..... except now it's more like one and three-quarter legs moving to seven-eighths.
I bounded up the steps at the kids' house last week. While it's true that my definition of bounding may differ somewhat from a totally able body person's, it certainly felt like bounding to me. I put one foot on each step. I didn't hold on to the banister, nor was I bent over so that my hands could support my weight on the steps above my feet. It made no difference if it was early morning or late at night; my body was responding to the effort I was putting into getting up there with gusto.
I heard Becky cheer leading behind me, in front of me, completely in my head. She knew I could do it. I believed her and swung my arms and lifted my knee and put all my weight on my right side and took care to use all the muscles in my leg and my foot to propel me up the stairs to the second floor of their house.
I didn't even need to rest once I got there.
Little Cuter told me that, as far as she was concerned, there was no reason to baby me where ambulation is concerned. I'm doing just fine. I'm to tell her if I need to rest but she will treat me as if walking is not an issue. I'm happy to report that taking big steps and swinging my torso and not holding myself stiffly to avoid aches and pains.... all of that approximates actual walking.... the kind of walking able bodied people do.... the kind of walking that was my goal when I signed up for physical therapy many months ago.
I wanted a fluid gait. I'm recognizing that it is not an impossibility.
Of course, the PWR!Moves handbook is 163 pages long. The exercises are illustrated with photos and arrows and have detailed instructions on breathing and posture and that ever present exhortation to Work Harder/Do More/ Move BIGGER and FASTER EVERY day! but there are a lot of them.
It's not easy. It's not pain free. It's often frightening and it's always challenging. But it's been proven to work and though I'm not a Parkinson patient, you are not your disease is a phrase that is as relevant to me as it is to those for whom the program is designed. It's an empowering notion, to define myself outside the broken pieces. I'm expecting more of myself, and in doing so I am creating more power and ability.
I always knew that I would get better. Until I began to work at PWR!Gym, I didn't know that people with Parkinson Disease can, too.
If you know someone with a diagnosis of PD, click here to order the book. The earlier the work begins, the better the results.