Can walking in water ease Parkinson’s symptoms?

University of the Sunshine Coast

A new USC study by an exercise physiologist aims to discover the potential benefits of aquatic walking compared to land walking for people with early stage Parkinson’s Disease.

Sarah Latif, a 2010 USC Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science graduate, is undertaking the Master’s research after 10 years working in her private practice across the Gympie region.

“Parkinson’s is a neurological condition that’s becoming more common, and walking is recommended for patients,” she said.

“However, there is a knowledge gap for specific exercise measures and aquatic rehabilitation for non-motor symptoms such neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure on changing body position).

“This hypotension can cause dizziness, increased risk of falling, fatigue and neck/shoulder pain.”

Ms Latif plans to study 60 participants in the USC pool and on USC walking tracks three times a week from August, to examine the effects of aquatic versus land-based walking on those symptoms.

“I will also investigate whether both types of walking alleviate anxiety, depression, sleeping disorders, fatigue, pain and apathy, which are other common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease that contribute to reduced quality of life,” she said.

The Caloundra resident said she was inspired to upskill by specialist colleagues she worked with in the region.

“I spent 10 years using exercise to rehabilitate patients with a multitude of chronic and acute conditions and I’ve come back to university to learn more about exercise rehabilitation to improve community health and help prevent the progression of diseases like Parkinson’s,” she said.

Anyone with Stage 1 or 2 Parkinson’s Disease who is interested in participating can call 0434 178 547 or email Sarah.latif@research.usc.edu.au.

Her research will be supervised by Associate Professor Suzanne Broadbent, who leads Clinical Exercise Physiology at USC, and Lecturer Dr Sonja Coetzee.

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