The first time Brenda (Thompson) Castle attended an OhioHealth Delay the Disease™ class, she burst into tears. Delay the Disease™ empowers people with Parkinson’s through a fitness program that targets their symptoms and optimizes physical function. Brenda had recently been diagnosed with the progressive nervous system disorder, which affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write.
She relied on a cane or wheelchair for mobility. When she looked around the room at her classmates, she saw they were running on treadmills and pedaling stationary bikes. That was when she burst into tears. David Zid, a founder of Delay the Disease, comforted her. “He said, ‘Give me one year and you’ll be in the best shape of your life,’” recalls Brenda, who hadn’t exercised since high school. Today she’s running 5Ks.
The gratitude Brenda feels for “getting her life back” led her to purchase a gait mat for the program—an assessment tool used to measure a patient’s gait, or walking stride.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, many patients like Brenda develop problems walking and with balance. Dopamine receptors degrade at different rates in the hemispheres of the brain, and the imbalance in the brain itself results in a physical sense of imbalance in walking. The gait mat registers footprint data as a walker strolls across it, allowing professionals to design interventions that help patients manage their symptoms.
“The doctors now have a useful tool to measure patients’ gaits and make recommendations,” says Brenda. She is excited that the machine will help not just Parkinson’s disease patients, but also those with multiple sclerosis, stroke or other neurodegenerative diseases treated at the OhioHealth Neuroscience Center.
Thanks to Brenda’s gift, people experiencing challenges with walking and balance will have a new opportunity to start their customized fitness program on the right foot.