A new study tentatively suggests that an ancient Chinese martial art can provide long-term relief from the debilitating symptoms and complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world. This slow, progressive condition affects the central nervous system, causing nerve cells to slowly die, leading to disturbances in movement, muscle control, and balance. Symptoms appear slowly and become more severe as the disease progresses.
Millions of people around the world suffer from this disease, and this number will increase in the coming years. Scientists warn of a Parkinson’s pandemic. While about 7 million people currently suffer from the disease, the number of people with Parkinson’s could rise to as many as 17 million by 2040. There is no cure, only ways to temporarily relieve symptoms. Such as martial arts Tai Chi. Previous studies have indicated that by practicing tai chi, Parkinson’s patients may experience short-term symptom relief. Research related to Shanghai Jiao Tong University However, he points out that the effect may provide improvement for several years, and may even slow the progression of the disease.
Quality of life
Scientists base this cautious conclusion on a study in which two groups of Parkinson’s patients were followed for more than four years. One group practiced tai chi twice a week, while the other group received usual care without tai chi. By looking at symptoms such as movement and balance, the researchers were able to determine that the Tai Chi group had slower disease progression than the control group. Compared with the control group, patients in the Tai Chi group also had less need for medication increase and their cognitive functions deteriorated more slowly. They will have a better quality of sleep and a better overall quality of life. They also experienced less involuntary movements or muscle spasms, hallucinations, falls, dizziness, and back pain.
What is tai chi?
Tai Chi or “Tai Ji” is an originally Chinese martial art used for self-defense and attack. She also does exercise as exercise therapy. Tai Chi is very suitable for elderly people and people with limited mobility, because unlike many other martial arts, the movements follow each other at a slow pace and flow smoothly. In addition, many exercises can also be performed while sitting or lying down, so there is little risk of falling.
While this sounds great, there are also caveats to research. The research group was not large enough to draw firm conclusions and because it was an observational study – and thus may include more factors, such as motivation or lifestyle – a causal relationship cannot be drawn. This is also confirmed by researcher Ray Chaudhary, professor of movement disorders and neuroscience King’s College London, who did not participate in the study. “Although the positive effects on some components are impressive, it is still too early to claim any ‘neuroprotection’ based on this research.”
Professor Alastair Noyce, Professor of Neuroscience and Neuroepidemiology, QMUL, who was also not involved in the study, is cautiously optimistic. “Several previous studies have indicated that exercise has long-term benefits in modifying the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.” Therefore, the professor has been recommending that Parkinson’s patients practice tai chi and other forms of exercise for some time. “Understanding which forms of exercise are most beneficial is an important goal to improve long-term management of patients.”
It’s still not entirely clear what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease, although there are many theories. For example, the pesticide glyphosate has been linked to the disease for some time, but there is also a link between loneliness and Parkinson’s disease. There is also a theory that certain strains of Desulfovibrio bacteria cause the disease by causing a buildup of alpha-synuclein, a protein, in the brain. But it’s not clear where Parkinson’s patients might get them, and how they would and function differently than other strains in healthy patients. Stomach ulcers and even climate change have also been linked to the disease. So a lot is still unclear.