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From Research to Practice: Rehabilitation of Persons Living With Parkinson's Disease

Hirsch, Mark A. PhD; Hammond, Flora M. MD; Hirsch, Helmut V.B. PhD

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: April-June 2008 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 92–98
doi: 10.1097/01.TGR.0000318897.93528.92
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For many years, the mantra was that exercise had little or no effect on Parkinson's disease (PD). Few studies were conducted on PT/exercise and no progress was made in the area. It was feared that too much exercise would exacerbate the disease. Breakthroughs in the neurosciences suggest a host of factors, such as novelty, saliency, social factors, and repetitive task-oriented practice trigger plasticity-related events in the PD brain. Animal models of PD suggest intense sensorymotor training is neuroprotective. Although our understanding of the PD/exercise domain has improved, so has our appreciation for the complexity of the PD system. Yet, research in this area remains fragmented and the rehabilitation field is slow to implement new practices. Greater research partnerships between bench scientists and clinicians are needed. We must replicate research and form joint ventures with community organizations and test if our theories hold up at the community level.

From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC (Drs M.A. Hirsch and Hammond); and the Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York, Albany (Dr H.V.B. Hirsch).

Corresponding author: Mark A. Hirsch, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Carolinas HealthCare System, 1100 Blythe Blvd, Charlotte NC 28203 (e-mail: mark.hirsch@carolinashealthcare.org).

The authors thank Susan Calne for her editing expertise and Drs Tim Schallert and Philip Sanford Zeskind for stimulating conversation.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.