National neuro-disabilities day – Parkinsons

By Sabita Stewart – Physiotherapy Team Lead and Clinical Health Coach   


Parkinson’s is a progressive condition which affects the way the brain functions and this leads to physical symptoms. Approximately 1 in 500 people are affected and of these, there are slightly more men than women. Symptoms tend to appear after the age of 50 but for a few, symptoms are noticeable from the age of 40 or younger. Thus there may well be many people in employment who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.


The three main physical symptoms are a tremor, slow movement and stiff, inflexible muscles. Symptoms start off mildly and can worsen over time. In addition, there may be an impact on mental health and this can be not only for the individual themselves but also for those close to them, e.g, family and friends.


At present, there is no known cure. However, Parkinson’s itself is often not the cause of death, rather it is the consequences of the condition which may prove fatal. For example, reduced balance results in a fall which results in a hip fracture which results in further reduced mobility, leading to reduced lung function and a chest infection. This infection may be the ultimate cause of death.


If this is all sounding like Radio ‘Doom & Gloom’, fear not, there is another channel. Radio ‘Hop & Bop’ features information aimed at reducing the rate of decline, optimising function, maintaining independence and valuing a sense of purpose and worth. Radio ‘Hop & Bop’ also plays music and this can be key to maintaining not only movement but also mood.


There is ample evidence showing that regular physical activity and exercise has a positive impact on mental health, including mild to moderate depression. Exercise boosts dopamine levels in the brain. There is also evidence that music boosts mood, again with increased dopamine production. Reduced dopamine is a key feature of Parkinson’s and whilst the inter-reactions are complex, exercise to music may be just the ticket for holistic gains to physical and mental fitness. For individuals with Parkinson’s, listening to a regular beat can help unfreeze and then maintain coordinated movement.


Exercise to music may conjure up thoughts of Zumba and dancercise classes but no lycra or legwarmers are required. You could try dancing in the kitchen – it’s a perfect physical activity and can be started at any time. A simple 1,2,3 waltz or a Cuban salsa in someone’s arms is too enjoyable to be considered exercise


Please, take 5 minutes to think about how you and those around you can incorporate music and movement into your day. Think, too, about what may get in the way. Keep things simple, focus on what’s important to you and this will increase your likelihood of staying mobile and independent.



Exercise for depression

Why is music therapeutic for neurological disorders? The Therapeutic Music Capacities Model

Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music

Special Issue – Therapeutic Benefits of Physical Activity for Mood: A Systematic Review on the Effects of Exercise Intensity, Duration, and Modality


Working To Wellbeing (W2W) provides consultancy and intervention for health and wellbeing at work. We provide wellbeing and rehabilitation services, supporting employees with physical health, mental health and long term conditions, the 3 key causes of presenteeism and absence. We join the dots between the physical and mental health issues that cause and perpetuate poor health. Our specialist clinicians are highly trained to provide a truly integrated service that results in health behaviour change and optimum work capability.