For the more than 110,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease, there is no known cause or cure. Being able to manage their symptoms, however, can make all the difference.
Alumnus and U of L researcher Dr. Jon Doan (PhD ’06) is leading a multidisciplinary research group that has teamed up to advance symptom management strategies for people living with Parkinson’s disease. They are taking their research to ice rinks across Canada, using skating and stickhandling skills as forms of therapy.
“When we tested people living with Parkinson’s, we found they skated safely and skillfully at significantly greater velocity than their walking and with significantly bigger arm swing,” explains Jon. “Most interestingly, when these patients did some walking locomotion after an episode of skating, they also walked significantly faster than they did before the skating session.”
In addition to helping people with Parkinson’s biologically and psychologically, the research has social and emotional benefits. “If we can get Parkinson’s patients, particularly those who are in rural areas, to the rink for therapy, it puts them in the hub of their community where they are surrounded by active family and friends.”