Staying Positive With Parkinson's Disease

Practice Mindfulness, Stay In The Moment, Take Life Day-By-Day Via Newtown Health And Wellness And Pilates

Ultra-inspiring Newtown resident Kevin Peyton, 57, has been dealing with Parkinson's disease since he was 26 years old. He's also been dealing with how best to look on the bright side of life, an approach that includes working with Ilene Morris White, owner of Newtown Health and Wellness and Pilates. Together, the two carve out Kevin's physical path, fueled by Pilates exercises and mind-body conditioning at the fully equipped wellness center that Ilene operates.

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors.

Kevin was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1992. Prior, he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at The Catholic University of America. For 13 years, he worked as an advanced system engineer at Electronic Data Systems. He says although the debilitating condition forced him to stop working in 2002, he tried his best to stay positive. "To maintain an upbeat attitude, and to help others, I decided to write a book, with my wife's help." 

The book is titled: Thumbs Up! Staying Positive with Parkinson's Disease. It was published Dec. 2, 2011, by Create Space publishing, and is available locally for purchase at Newtown Health and Wellness and Pilates Center, as well as on Amazon.com. 

"As it turned out, I really feel the book is helpful to anyone who is dealing with difficult issues, medical and otherwise. I have read my book many times myself, and I come away from it focused on what's really important to me. Many others have said the same. The book is only 114 pages long and is an easy read, but I think it contains a good message," Kevin explains. 

During July 2008, Kevin had a 10-hour operation to help alleviate some of the tremors and dyskinesias (involuntary, erratic, writhing movements of the face, arms, legs or trunk) he experienced from the disease. He says that the operation helped, but there are many other issues and symptoms related to the disease.

"The title of the book came from the picture on its front cover that my wife, Annie, took about an hour after the surgery that shows me with my thumbs up to tell my two sons that I was conscious and OK after the operation," Kevin says. 

Kevin says he feels fortunate to have found a dedicated, health care practitioner/coach/advocate in Ilene. 

Ilene has 25-plus years of experience in personal training, Pilates and therapeutic rehabilitation. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in exercise physiology. She is Polestar rehab-trained in Pilates and a PMA-NCPT (nationally certified comprehensively Pilates Professional). She's licensed in Pilates for neurological issues (a Pilates-based method taught by The Neuro Studio), such as Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke patients and brain injuries. She's also a licensed Buff Bones instructor for those with osteoporosis/prevention.

"Over the years, Kevin and I worked on moving through full range of motion, because with Parkinson's, rigidity happens due to lack of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that affects smooth movement," Ilene explains. "If you're not moving through full ROM, you'll get weaker. Neurological weakness will lead to spasticity."

She says Kevin also works on balance and gait abnormalities.

"We challenge the brain's neuroplasticity by learning new movement patterns and creating new neuromuscular pathways. Having fun 'gamification' is important, such as exercises using lights to challenge how quickly the brain can respond. Teaching functional exercises improves strength and provides improvements to assist gait and balance," Ilene confirms. 

Pilates for Neuro adapts traditional Pilates movements with functional neurological exercises that stimulate the PNS and ANS nervous systems, Ilene explains, using the Neuro Studio's system of joint centration, reflexive stability and other tried-and-true techniques aimed to optimize the body’s posture, movement, vision and balance by finetuning the brain/body connection on a neurological level.

Kevin currently works with others in class settings at the studio, because he says he enjoys being part of a group.

"He keeps up with everyone since he’s always been active. He recently was diagnosed with dementia, so we went back to adding gamification exercises again," Ilene adds. 

Always a Kevin fan and supporter for the past 25 years, Ilene says Kevin has been eternally positive. "He's up for anything. He always works hard, and has never stopped moving. He approaches it like he doesn’t have a neurological condition."

Ilene adds that Kevin never feels sorry for himself. "His drive and determination is something to be admired. He makes me a better person, and lives life with such zest. Do not ever tell Kevin he can’t do something, he will surprise you."

In October, Ilene announced that her evolving wellness center was complete, with the addition of Dr. Debra Gorman joining the team of caring healthcare practitioners of Dr. Kimberly Yeager-Rose and Dr. Loredana Marzullo Shapson. Dr. Debra, DAOM, LOM, LAc, DiplOM, CFMP, is a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine who specializes in pain management and gastrointestinal issues. She's a gifted acupuncturist and intuitive massage therapist who offers other modalities as well like cupping, adds Ilene.


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