Jumping into Swim Therapy: June 24, 2012

Studies show that exercise slows the progression of Parkinson’s disease.  The problem is, many people who have the disease find it hard to move at all.  That’s leading some patients to dive into swim therapy.

Jerry Bramlett looks like the picture of health.  He leads a weekly exercise class where everyone has Parkinson’s disease, including Jerry.

“I started progressing with Parkinson’s when I was in my early 40s. I noticed a tremor and I was having trouble with my balance,” says Bramlett.

Research shows exercise can lessen the disease’s effects.

“Parkinson’s disease is a neurologic disorder that deprives our body of the ability to move and often this will lead to the appearance of a tremor that is frequently seen and then ultimately rigidity,” says Kurt Gray, a physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Working out twice a week reduces symptoms, but many people with Parkinson’s have balance issues and find it hard to move. So instead of diving into exercise, they’re taking a dip.

“Even the temperature there is conducive to doing exercise?”

“Yes, it’s very pleasant and comfortable.”

With a year round temperature set at 95 degrees, the indoor pool at the Wellness Center of Cape Coral is used for a variety of physical therapies and exercise programs. 

“We’ve worked hard to build some of these exercise programs, like our pool aerobics program, to promote interaction amongst the population as well as to give them incentive and fun,” says Dr. Gray.

“I go there twice a week and we do just exercises in the pool. We do a little bit of yoga and then we do weights in the pool,” says Bramlett.

Water exercises are well suited to Parkinson’s patients.

“Being in the water, it gives you more confidence you’re not gonna fall and that’s one of the biggest fears that any of us have is falling,” says Bramlett.

Warm and welcoming, swim therapy is helping people back on solid ground.