Neuroplasticity: The benefit of exercise to... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK

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Neuroplasticity

Libra7 profile image
22 Replies

The benefit of exercise to improve Ataxia symptoms is well recorded. This is the ability of the brain to rewind through Neuroplasticity. However I wonder if anyone has achieved any improvement of symptoms or slowing down of progression by using visualisation of exercise. I have read that it would take a year to recognise any results so having embarked on a visualisation programme of walking 1,000 steps on a treadmill twice a day I wonder if Neuroplasticity will kick in and at least slow progression.

Is there anyone who has had experience of this?

22 Replies
ddmagee1 profile image
ddmagee1

I feel that exercise has helped me, and continues to do so.

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to ddmagee1

My particular query was whether visualisation of exercise was of benefit.

PatsyIpswich profile image
PatsyIpswich

I like to think that at 80 years old I have slowed progression with exercise and determination. However I have now taken to using a wheelchair both inside and outside for fear of falling. My husband Ken, has changed our car for one with ramp and winch as lifting is difficult for him. I do still do stand in kitchen to do chores but not cooking and continue to exercise daily with vibroplate as well as seated tai chi on YouTube. I'm sure you are doing the right thing. X

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to PatsyIpswich

Though I am 82 I continue to try to improve my balance. I am fortunate that I didn’t have the first symptom of Ataxia until I was 71. I walk outside and sometimes indoors with a three wheeled frame and have a trolley in the kitchen which is brilliant for holding on to and transporting things around. My particular query was if anyone has achieved any benefit from visualisation of exercise.

PatsyIpswich profile image
PatsyIpswich in reply to Libra7

No, not visualisation. My CA was triggered in late 50s with no known cause.

paul456 profile image
paul456

I think exercise is always good for you regardless of age, illness or disability. If you exercise, socialise and have a healthy diet it’s never going to do you any harm. Ataxia has many problems one being it’s almost impossible to measure if anything is doing you any good but what done you good before ataxia will do good now. Hopefully other parts of the brain cells kick in and help out.

You take care my friend and believe in yourself 👍🏻

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to paul456

Thanks for your support. It’s whether the visualisation of exercise can be just as good as the real thing?

ddmagee1 profile image
ddmagee1

Just visualization of exercising is not helpful to me. I must, and do exercise, by doing several thousand steps of walking every day, irregardless of balance and awkward walking patterns, caused by Ataxia. By First doing stretching exercises, and working on warming up a bit, I visualize where, and how I am going to walk. Then, I actually follow up, and walk! It is helpful, and staves off further progression, a bit, I believe.

rideabike profile image
rideabike in reply to ddmagee1

I agree that visualization and planning seems necessary for most everything. I plan how to get to the yard and what steps it will take to do things or how to carry things there safely so I don't fall. Driving is another story. I have to plan not to look away from the road, at the radio or other distractions, or I will end up somewhere other than the road. 🦨 Visualizing steps would bore me to death. 😆 Imagining riding a horse is a pleasure.....walking a dog 1000 steps is nice, whatever turns you on but keep the mind moving as much as you can, physically or mindfully. It takes a lot of energy to plan like that and I guess that's why I'm so tired. Hey but it works!

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to rideabike

I know visualising walking on a tread mill sounds boring but I have tried visualising walking round our garden ( we have a 2 acre field) or walking by the river and my mind always wanders! At least if I keep counting ( 2 steps for every number) it keeps my mind focused.

Pleased your visualisations are helpful in day to day life and especially in driving.

rideabike profile image
rideabike in reply to Libra7

Do you drive? I'm 71 and it's a necessity because I live in a rural area. My ataxia started around 6 years ago....probably more but didn't recognize beginning signs. Glad to hear you are doing what you can to stay on top. I drive myself to do things and constantly thinking to keep my mind active. It's like my brain won't stop driving too so I sometimes think it's a survival thing the brain is doing on it's own. So much for the "golden years"....I know it could be worse though. Take care!!

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to rideabike

No I don’t drive now. I was 71 when I had the first symptoms of Ataxia (slurred speech) and I was still driving. My balance issues then started to kick in and when I was 75 I fell and broke my wrist. I was just getting back into driving when 3 months later I fell again and broke 3 ribs and haven’t driven since. I am now 82 and my husband who is the same age is fortunately still driving. Like you we live in a rural area and as there are no pavements we have to take a car journey to be able to walk. I have a recliner bike in the house and try to cycle for 20 minutes about 5 times a week.

I commend you for your positive attitude.

wobblybee profile image
wobblybee

🙂 It would be nice if ‘visualisation of exercise’ did improve mobility

🤔 I’ve often envisioned myself enjoying movement unhindered

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to wobblybee

Hi wobblybee, I always enjoy reading your research information and I guess if there had ever been some done on visualisation of exercise for Ataxia you would have known about it. In books I have read it always refers to MS, Parkinson’s and stroke - never mentions Ataxia - and it also seems anecdotal. Given that it suggests that it takes many months to see results it requires quite a commitment to persevere but as it can’t do any harm it’s worth a try!

wobblybee profile image
wobblybee in reply to Libra7

🙂 I can see that it would need commitment…but you just never know. Let us know the results 🙂

PatsyIpswich profile image
PatsyIpswich

IMHO loss of balance is always going to make us vulnerable so please stay safe and don't forget to smile x

7151 profile image
7151

Hello thankyou for your post it will encourage me to exercice more ! Thé neurologues dont seem to take my antaxia very seroulosly ! I seem to have learned to live with the walking problème but now thé terrible tremblement when i m standing still ☹i do have physiothérapie once à week

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to 7151

I do encourage you to persevere with exercise and I’m sure the physio will be of benefit. Although no one on this site seems to have tried visualisation of exercise I have read reports of it helping stroke victims and others to regain lost functions by rewiring the brain.

Good luck!

Driven1 profile image
Driven1

Formula 1 drivers visualise driving around the race track all the time. They get their mind and body attuned to what each action has to be in their car. Visualise this youtu.be/cxxeRzfJ1_c About 1:30 in when the driver starts his run. Visualise each corner and where your hands feet have to ben :). Wow

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to Driven1

As you say - Wow!!! There are many anecdotes of sports people visualising their performance to great effect. There are also stories of success in regaining control after disabilities such as accident or stroke. I guess we all have to concentrate on the success stories and hope for the best!

penelope2 profile image
penelope2

Yes I have too heard many times of top athletes using visualisation before a race and they say it helps them. Using psychology can be a pretty powerful thing. I constantly talk to my legs to work, does this help? Don't know. Know this sounds weird but in the shower I imagine the nerves running down my neck and back, does this help, don't know. Also relaxation and meditation definitely helps with tight muscles, this does work! Also articulating in my head, this goes back to days of typing, I can still touch type so does this help, don't know but certainly doing nothing in.my opinion is not an option. We need to do the best we can. Take care.

Libra7 profile image
Libra7 in reply to penelope2

I’m sure you are helping even if in a small way. I sometimes imagine filling up my cerebellum with millions of neurones to replace the ones lost each day. Some people would regard this as mad!

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