Hope Floats...With Neuroplasticity For Parkinson's!

Category: Newsworthy Notes

Neuroplasticity is defined as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.” In other words, the brain has the ability to change, adapt and form new neuro pathways that may help regain lost motor function. For those with a neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s, neuroplasticity provides meaningful inspiration and motivation to combat the effects caused by the lack of dopamine in the brain. According to CNN Medical Correspondent and Neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, “the brain is malleable and changeable, and can improve throughout our lives” (Brain & Life, Feb/Mar 2021). 

Neuroplasticity is the combination of 2 words: neurons and plasticity. Neurons are the nerve cells in the brain and plasticity refers to something that is capable of being molded or reorganized. The combination refers to the process of reorganizing the neurons in your brain. It’s the mechanism that your brain uses to heal damage and rewire itself to restore function. A common misconception to neurological conditions is that the key challenge is physical and muscular; the truth is the solution lies in brain function. 

Rehabilitation exercises retrain your brain how to use your muscles again. Exercise allows the brain to rewire itself. A critical variable for efficacy is repetition of the movement or exercise. Some great options with repetitive movement, increased heart rate and proven efficacy for Parkinson’s include riding a motor-assisted stationary bike such as a TheraCycle, Rock Steady Boxing, tai chi and swimming. The more you exercise and repeat a movement over and over again, the stronger those new pathways in the brain become. Reinforcement, discipline and diligence is key to regaining back function in the brain which will help regain motor function and mobility. Dr. Amy Towfighi, an associate professor of neurology at USC’s Keck’s School of Medicine states, “Because of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways after other pathways have been disrupted, patients can keep regaining function” (Brain & Life, April/May2021). 

David Dansereau, a Physical Therapist with SmartMoves Physical Therapy based in Cumberland, RI states “we know there’s potential with Parkinson’s and repetitive exercise driving neuroplastic and neuroprotective changes; we just simply haven’t done the best job providing solutions on how to dose it correctly—and measure it—to get the therapeutic benefits and drive reimbursement for making those solutions available. It’s often easier and simpler for doctors to prescribe a medicine vs track and monitor progress with exercise. Prescribing the “E” pill, Exercise Pill, takes more time and is more difficult to track but this is where the greatest opportunity lies with the help of technology to disrupt this and provide meaningful data.”

A study conducted on 144 patients between 2008 and 2015 concluded that “An emerging body of evidence suggests exercise triggers several plasticity related events in the human Parkinson’s brain including corticomotor excitation, increases and decreases in gray matter volume, and changes in BDNF, or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor levels (Exercise-Induced Neuroplasticity In Human Parkinson’s Disease: What Is The Evidence Telling Us? Parkinsonism Related Disorders. 2016 Jan;22 Suppl 1:S78-81). 

Another study abstract states “Increasing evidence suggests that ongoing vigorous exercise and physical fitness may favorably influence the progression of Parkinson’s. A rich vein of bench and translational research now suggest non-pharmacological approaches, such as exercise or physiotherapy, have a far greater effect on the cardinal features of Parkinson’s than previously believed. Many clinicians and communities remain unaware of the scientific literature underlying exercise-induced brain repair or reorganization (neuroplasticity) and accompanying behavioral recovery in animal models of Parkinson’s. Some noteworthy preliminary studies suggest that continuous, deficit targeted, intensive training may confer neuroprotection and thereby slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease or promote neuro-restoration through adaptation of compromised signaling pathways (Exercise And Neuroplasticity In Persons Living With Parkinson’s Disease: Eur J Phys Rehabilitation Med, 2009 Jun;45(2):215-29). 

Exercise, we all know, is good for physical health. However, there are now clear indications, research, and patient experience indicating that robust, repetitive, and intense exercise that increases the heart rate and is repetitive can have a significant impact on brain and neuro health, which can be as effective or even better than available medications for those with Parkinson’s. Resulting neurons firing in the brain and the development of new neuro pathways we now know can generate improved brain function, increased motor control, and mobility. This is absolutely welcome news for the Person with Parkinson’s that has been eagerly awaiting a breakthrough medication… and best yet, it’s all natural! 

Learn more about TheraCycle by visiting their page in the Wellness Village, where they became members in September 2022. ParkinsonsResource.org/theracycle

Share This Article:


Contact Us

Parkinson's Resource Organization
74785 Highway 111
Suite 208
Indian Wells, CA 92210

Local Phone
(760) 773-5628

Toll-Free Phone
(877) 775-4111

General Information


Like! Subscribe! Share!

Did you know that you can communicate with us through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and now Instagram?



Updated: August 16, 2017