Wells column: Personal trainers train to fight Parkinson’s disease
Friday morning is not a busy time at many gyms. Most contain only trainers and diehards on any given Friday. However, personal trainers can finally get some down time, and it’s an opportunity to give themselves a workout and expand upon their education. Trainers have an array of certification topics to choose from to advance their clients and to meet the demands of this ever-changing profession. One Friday in particular, trainers at Midland Fitness received some training that very few get.
Karl Sterling could barely stay on the road, gawking at the beauty during his trip from DIA to Glenwood Springs to instruct his Parkinson’s Regeneration Clinic at Midland Fitness. Karl, a master trainer for the National Academy of Sports Medicine is recognized as supreme authority in certifying fitness professionals), has developed a very specific program. His program is based on progressive medical research, focusing on various forms of exercise and its effects on Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients.
Karl is based out of NYC and travels around the U.S. to inform personal trainers, physical therapists, neurologists and caretakers about the latest PD research in regard to exercise.
Having picked the brains of many of the most progressive minds in neurology, Karl continues to work closely with doctors and scientists at New York University and Stony Brook University to find solutions for PD patients.
“There is plenty of compelling data to prove how beneficial specialty targeted exercise is for managing PD symptoms,” explains Karl. “We’re approaching this disease with evidence-based exercise methods that work right alongside traditional medical treatments.”
Attendees to his certification series are educated on how to identify typical symptoms and qualify patients for effective exercise to help them slow down the progression of the disease significantly.
For example, fall prevention is a huge priority for PD patients. Evidence shows that targeted exercise programs substantially reduce this risk.
“One of the biggest accomplishments of the program is fall prevention, but we have a ways to go,” admits Karl. “Falls are devastating for PD patients. Injuries make life much more difficult.”
Balance, proprioception, depth perception and multitasking challenges of specifically targeted exercises are proven to reduce the risk of injury.
So what’s a PD workout like? “Stand on one foot and get ready to catch this ball,” Karl tried to catch the trainers off guard — forcing them to tune in their collective neurology to concentrate. PD patients must develop strength, flexibility, cardio endurance along with challenging their nervous systems. It’s like reactivating the physical learning process.
“PD is still a medical mystery. We need more research. But for now, we know that exercise makes a big difference and is very low risk to the patient.” Karl is working to assemble clinical trials around the country to study the effects of various exercise on PD.
Midland Fitness plans to host a second Parkinson’s Regeneration Clinic in spring 2017. Professionals and caretakers will benefit from understanding the medical facts about this disease. Based on the statistics, our generation will be dealing with PD and similar symptoms as we take care of our aging population into the future.
Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness.
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