Class Helps People With Parkinson's Disease - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Class Helps People With Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson's disease (PD) affects nearly one million people in the United States.

The disease is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking and difficulty with walking and other movements.

"Fingers don't do what they're supposed to do. You take it for granted. You button up, and I'm going to struggle. They will come back out. I have a lot of trouble with fine work too. I just can't do it anymore," says Art Mildenberger a Parkinson's disease sufferer.

Mildenberger has been suffering from PD for 12 years, and even though he still struggles with that detailed work, he has seen some major improvement in large muscle movements after taking a class at Touchmark Health and Fitness Club.

"We do a bunch of work with tennis balls and balancing the balls on the hand. Throwing them up one hand and juggling with another hand," says Nick Henkelman the director of the Health and Fitness Club.

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that's released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. Well, patients who suffer from Parkinson's have very low levels of that chemical, so big-movement work is essential to bring those levels up again. 

"We go into big movements-the arms and then go into taking big steps with the high knees, big movements with with arms and legs together," says Henkelman.

Even though PD can be extremely frustrating for patients, Mildenberger says staying busy and keeping a positive attitude helps. The classes at Touchmark are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:50 to 2:50 in the afternoon.
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