Brian Grant Foundation Launches Online Parkinson’s Exercise Training Program for Professionals

Stacy Grieve, PhD avatar

by Stacy Grieve, PhD |

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Parkinson's exercise program

A new online exercise training program for professionals working with Parkinson’s disease patients has been launched by the Brian Grant Foundation (BGF).

This free program is geared toward physical therapists, personal trainers, and group fitness instructors to assist them in developing safe and effective training classes for those living with the disease.

“After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I looked for ways to combat the symptoms that I was experiencing while keeping my physical abilities as long as possible,” Brian Grant, who founded BGF in 2010, said in a press release.

As a former NBA player, he understands the benefits of exercise, saying, “I learned the importance of staying flexible, keeping good posture and practicing specific movements to address symptoms of the disease.”

Research suggests that intense exercise programs can improve quality of life and help alleviate some of the most difficult motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including gait, strength, cognition, and sleep difficulties.

The aim of this new program is to develop safe and effective exercises specifically for Parkinson’s patients. Exercises are based on research from Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) Balance Disorders Laboratory, with which the Brian Grant Foundation works closely.

This research emphasizes using a combination of physical and cognitive activities to slow down the progression of symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease.

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In a 2009 study published in the journal Physical Therapy, OHSU researchers discussed how specific Parkinson’s disease symptoms such as rigidity, slowness of movement, poor sensory integration, and impaired cognitive processing can ultimately limit mobility.

The team designed exercises that incorporate movements from different disciplines including tai chi, kayaking, boxing, lunges, agility training, and Pilates. Starting an exercise routine early after a Parkinson’s diagnosis can improve symptoms and slow down progression.

The online program includes 12 lessons, ranging from an introduction into Parkinson’s disease, aerobic exercises, and incorporating safety in exercises, to sessions on the specific movement principles introduced in OHSU’s research. The program emphasizes high-intensity exercises and a variety of movements.

Anyone interested in the free training program can register online.

BGF’s goal is to provide the tools necessary to improve the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease by focusing on overall health through exercise and nutrition. It is recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and Athletics and Fitness Association of America, and fitness professionals certified through either one of these organizations can receive continuing education credit for the online Parkinson’s training program.