What Moves Movement You

What moves Movement You? What does martial arts training have to offer those impacted by movement disorders?

The focus of Movement You is on improving the lives of those living with movement disorders by empowering their bodies to better meet their daily movement challenges..  

If you’re living with a movement disorder or know someone who is, you already know the answer to this question.  If you need convincing – or want to pass information on to someone else – this section is for you! There is a broad spectrum of movement disorders, many affecting people in both neurological and physiological ways.  The most often referenced – and the primary disease motivating Movement You – is Parkinson’s disease.  

Throughout the general population, .05% to 1% of all individuals aged 65 to 69 are thought to have Parkinson’s disease, with the percentages increasing to between 1% and 3% of the population of individuals 80 years of age or higher (“Effectiveness of tai chi for Parkinson’s Disease: A critical review,” Parkinsonism & Related Disorders Vol 14 (2008) 589 – 594, Myeong Soo Lee, et. al.) To place these percentages in terms of Anne Arundel County Maryland’s population, there could be between 320 to 820 individuals affected with Parkinson’s disease (not counting the other conditions which make up those living with movement disorders!) The impact on both those living with the disease and the partners, loved-ones and care-takers of folks struggling through movement disorders can be immensely challenging. 

More concerning, 38% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease will fall. When they do fall, they are 5 times more likely than the general population to suffer fall related injuries.  (Therapeutic Effects of Tai Chi in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease,”ISRN Neurology, Vol 2013, Article 548240, Hye-Jung Choi, et. al.) It is specifically noted 27% of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease experience a hip fracture within 10 years of their diagnosis. (“Effects of Tai Chi and Multimodal Exercise Training on Movement and Balance Function in Mild to Moderate Idiopathic Parkinson Disease,” American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Article No. 0894-9115/15/9410-0921, Tian-Yu Zhang BS, et. al.)

While these conditions and diseases create physical challenges to movement and balance, they are neurological in nature. Their primary impact on patients can have many different effects.  While neurological treatments, medical procedures, and pharmacological interventions are being pursued by many capable individuals and agencies, the focus of Movement You is on improving the lives of those living with movement disorders by empowering their bodies to better meet their daily movement challenges.

Throughout research, it is made clear that there are currently no medical interventions that can help individuals improve or manage their balance – the key body process behind this list. In the absence of stand-alone medical intervention, movement and balance classes present a unique chance for patients to help their bodies remember how to move and balance. The physical symptoms impacting people’s daily lives can be severe (“Neural Mechanisms underlying balance improvement with short term Tai Chi training, “Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, Vol 18: 7 – 19, 2006, Strawberry K Gatts and Marjorie Hines Woollacott), and may often include the following:

  • Bradykinesia / slowness of voluntary movement
  • Reduced stability, especially in noticing and responding to backwards steps
  • Reduced lateral posture
  • Freezing of gait or delay / inability to step
  • Start hesitation
  • Navigation of turns/twists around their environments