When Geoffrey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the first neurologist he visited told him to keep doing all of the things that he loved, that made him feel good, and made him happy! In Geoff’s case, she was referring to all of the sporting activities that he has involved himself in during his life. The reason she said to continue all of the activity is because when you are performing task that you enjoy, your brain makes dopamine and that is the key to reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Geoff has been playing golf for most of his life and he loves it! Like all golfers, there are days that he hates it (on those days when the little white ball has a mind of it’s own!), but for the most part, some of his best days are those when he is chasing the little white ball!
As Geoff was playing golf in “The ESPO” charity golf tournament on Monday, it suddenly occurred to me that I never hear anything in the news or on TV about professional golfers who are still playing golf after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After doing quite a lot of research, I could still not find information about pros playing or having to stop playing because of Parkinson’s disease. This is great news but I found it pretty unusual that the disease has not been reported from some country in the pro-golf circuit.
This fact is just another confirmation of how great Geoffrey is doing with his disease. Being formally diagnosed over five years ago, and most likely living with the disease for closer to eighth years, it is simply amazing how well he still plays! I think it is further proof that staying active, continuing with a work out regimen and continuing to do what you love, is a perfect combination for those living with PD!
We were both pretty tired after our drive to and from Sarasota for the golf tournament, but this is the good kind of tired! When you have spent the day on the golf course, helped raise money for a great charity, and shared time with good friends, you realize just how much you love life!
Golf, like every other sport requires a lot of skill which is only developed through practice. Before Geoffrey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease he was shooting in the high 70′s to low 80′s, and would occasionally shoot in the low 70′s. Today, it is rare for him to ever have a score higher than the mid-80′s, and most often his scores are in the mid to high 70′s! Is that great or what? Some of Geoff’s golf buddies say his game has improved since he has gotten PD! Practice makes perfect!
Geoff’s game has changed since being diagnosed without a doubt, but he has practiced and tailored his swing to compensate for the disease. Today he is hitting the ball further and straighter than before, and his short game has never been better! He used to lose strokes in putting and there was a time that he struggled with some shaking in his right hand while putting. Practice, practice and more practice on the putting green has stopped the shaking and he has retrained his brain to putt flawlessly. There is strong evidence that repetitive behavior can cause positive changes to those areas of the brain that have been damaged, and I think this is what has occurred from all of Geoff’s practice.
We are not kidding ourselves, we know that today without new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, the disease will continue to progress. How fast, is anyone’s guess! But the important thing is that having a positive mental attitude, and continuing to do those things that you love is important!
Golfing With Parkinson’s
1. Find a golfing support group when you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, especially if your symptoms are severe. Speak to the Pro at your local golf course as he may know others who are interested in playing and practicing with those who have PD or other illnesses. It is easier to cope with your new life when surrounded by like individuals sometimes but have no fear – with practice, you will be ready to join any group to play!
2. Exercise. Stay as active as possible. According to parkinsonsnsw.org.au, “Overall fitness and good muscle tone can help minimise some of the abnormal movements associated with Parkinson’s disease.” This holds true not only for those who want to continue to play golf but for the overall health of those with PD.
3. Find a good physical therapist who can show you good exercises to improve your impaired motor skills. Ask him or her to give you exercises you can do at home to help your golf game. The instructors at the golf course may also be able to help with these exercises because a golfers are finding that exercise really helps their game as well!
4. Relax when you are on the golf course. Never push yourself too much as this can exacerbate tremors. Stay positive and only do what you feel you can do. The more you play, the easier it will become.
5. Adjust your medication intakes. Eventually you will learn to adjust your medication intake to your teeoff schedules.” This is so true in golf, but it applies to everything that those living with PD learn to do.
These are just a few suggestions for how to help maintain your golf game when living with Parkinson’s disease. The main thing to remember is that the more you play and the more you practice the better your game will become. You do not have to give up the game you love. Just remember this, there are very few golfers who can achieve scores below 100! Even those without Parkinson’s disease are challenged by the little white ball!
Give it a try! You will be glad you did and your game will improve right along with your spirits and positive mental attitude! pkp
Speaking of Sporting: Parker’s Climb offers Skout Natural Trailbars for sale through the Parker’s Climb Website! Skout is offering 20% off all orders placed for the month of May! So – Stock up! They are so good and they are natural and organic and filled with simple ingredients that are good for you! Use Code May123 at checkout to receive 20% off of your order!
We will be taking a big supply of Skout Natural Bars with us when we climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and I plan to place our order this week! Remember, each time you place an order through Parker’s Climb, we donate 100% of the proceeds to Team Fox! You get great trailbars and Team Fox gets a donation! pkp