Golf and Parkinson’s Disease – Dr Anne-Marie Wills

Dr Anne-Marie Wills, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, USA, has been conducting research into the effects of activity on Parkinson’s Disease patients.

This common chronic disease affects 1-2 in 1000 people worldwide, and Wills’ impression is that the Parkinson’s disease patients she sees who engage with golf fared better than those that did not.

As a result, she has designed and is undertaking a study comparing golf with Tai Chi in terms of strength and balance [results will be reported when available].

“I have been looking at people who have Parkinson’s already, who have some level of balance impairment, and looking at the effect of a 10-week, twice weekly, intervention, for either golf or Tai Chi,” said Wills who presented her study design at the 2018 Golf & Health Scientific Meeting at High Elms Golf Club, UK.

“Tai Chi is the gold standard for people with Parkinson’s, in terms of balance and prevention of falls…so I am trying to see if golf could be comparable.

“From the preliminary patients that have gone through this study we have seen really great responses in terms of their enjoyment of the programme. I’m hoping that it will turn out to be as effective as Tai Chi in terms of balance and that we’ll be able to come up with a programme that patients can do in the real world. This pilot programme is in part to come up with a programme that golf instructors would then be able to roll-out at their own local site so we can spread this more broadly.

“I’m hoping that it is going to be more fun and something that people will really want to stick with – I think that’s the biggest barrier to all exercise programmes in that we don’t want something that people feel like they have to do, we want something that they want to do.”

The Golf & Health Scientific Meeting

Hosted by High Elms Golf Club, the Golf & Health Scientific Meeting brought together a wide variety of research specialists from around the world to share the incredible, cutting-edge research they are undertaking in the fields of physical activity, medical interventions and social prescribing, dementia and Parkinson’s research, rehabilitation, and community engagement, all with a focus on the health benefits that golf can give.

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Golf & Health Project

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