The rewiring of the brain
A contribution by Jürgen Zender

   

The rewiring of the brain

On January 6th of this year the following article appeared in the "Parkinson News Today" by the well-known "American columnist and book author Dr. C. In it he describes his very personal strategy for dealing with the damage to his midbrain.

"I think of my Parkinson's disease as a kind of brain injury - specifically to small parts of the midbrain. I imagine the total volume of the damaged area is about the size of a golf ball. That means I can use the rest of my brain to come up with workarounds.

For the past eight years, this has been the focus of my research, writing, and personal development of a brain rehab program I call the Parkinson's Self-Management Toolkit.

I had just the right training to take on this work, with foundations in the various disciplines needed to be a researcher, writer, clinician, and teacher. My wife thinks I'm just the "right man at the right time" to get Parkinson's. Developing brain rehabilitation is not an easy task, but with the right training and the fact that I have the disease, I look inside out.

I imagine the total volume of the damaged area is about the size of a golf ball. That means I can use the rest of my brain to come up with workarounds.

For the past eight years, this has been the focus of my research, writing, and personal development of a brain rehab program I call the Parkinson's Self-Management Toolkit.

I had just the right training to do this job, with foundations in the various disciplines needed to be a researcher, writer, clinician, and teacher. Miss Dr. C. thinks I'm exactly the “right man at the right time” to get Parkinson's. Developing brain rehabilitation is not an easy task, but with the right training and the fact that I have the disease, I look inside out.

Before I can begin a brain rewiring process to treat Parkinson's, I need a full description of this midbrain damage. This is what I know:

Parkinson's is due to a malfunction in the dopamine neurons. There are two primary dopamine brain areas: the basal ganglia and the insular cortex. These are structures in the midbrain.
Parkinson's disease is both progressive and transient, which is reflected in the fact that there are "good" days and "bad" days.
There are two main causes of Parkinson's dysfunction: the damaged neurons and the malfunctions that occur when neural circuits use the distorted information from those damaged neurons. I call this the "Parkinson's Developmental Syndrome".
With this information, I can now create a rehabilitation model of the affected areas, which will be discussed in my forthcoming book, Possessing Parkinson's: Developing a Self-Management Toolkit. The workaround is developed using this model.

New neural pathways
The brain rewiring component of this workaround focuses on teaching the brain to think differently. The brain is taught to create new neural pathways that go around the damaged brain regions.

One function of the midbrain is to monitor and regulate the body's autonomic functions. Regulating body temperature is one of these functions.

The midbrain is like the thermostat in my house. When the temperature in the house drops, the thermostat registers this change. It tells the stove to turn on the heater and heat the rooms. When the temperature reaches the thermostat setting, the thermostat sends a signal to the oven to turn off. In the summer, the same process applies when the thermostat is set to cool. It then turns on the air conditioning when it gets too hot.

Thermal dysregulation is a common problem in Parkinson's patients. I experience this several times a day. My "thermostat" turns on, but instead of sending appropriate commands, it sends over-the-top commands. This causes my body to sweat to cope with the demands of the excessive input. I just need a little cool down, not overly soaking my whole body with sweat pouring off my skin.

The exaggeration also occurs when I feel even a touch of cold. My "thermostat" says "shake and warm up". But I'm shaking more than I need to gain body heat.

Sometimes both happen in sequence - 30 minutes of alternating body heat sensations followed by 30 minutes of cold sensations.

My body is trying to achieve homeostasis, but it's fighting off the overblown signals from the damaged midbrain. I "flicker" up and down as my Parkinson's brain struggles to achieve body temperature equilibrium.

If I'm aware that this is happening, I can try to remain calm. I can breathe deeply to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).

The PSNS is one of the two functionally distinct divisions of the autonomic nervous system. The PSNS predominates in calm "rest and digest" states, while the sympathetic nervous system controls the "fight or flight" response in stressful situations.

To calm the over-signals, I can do one of three things: calm down, meditate, or wait for it to pass.

The Hospital for Special Surgery advises that there are many ways to practice using the parasympathetic nervous system. This includes light exercise, meditation, yoga, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and even nature walks. These strategies are known to be effective treatments for Parkinson's patients.

Due to the individual nature of the disease, there is no single rehabilitation program that would be suitable for everyone. But the science behind it should be useful for anyone trying to live better with Parkinson's.”
Source Parkinson's News today

The gist of the article is the Parkinson Journal's mantra: move, move, and move again. And anyone who has ever had experience with taiji, meditation qigong, yoga, ping-pong parkinson and Nordic walking knows about their positive, I would even say therapeutic effect.

With that in mind, I would like to recommend the following links to my readers:

keep moving day. the annual Taiji Day by Mirko Lorenz, this year in Berlin

qigong, every Monday at 19 p.m., Jürgen Kotterer offers a free Quigong workshop via zoom to anyone interested

PingPong Parkinson, Table tennis as a physical and psychological therapy

Fit through the week with Gabi Fastner

Have fun exploring new ways to a better life.

Juergen Zender, Munich, August 10.03.2023, XNUMX

Stay tuned.


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