Golf helps Parkinson’s patients tee off against their disease

Clinic helps patients get back in the game

Jay Miller gripped his golf club and looked down at his ball resting on the green earth below. He paused and took his swing. Smack! The ball sailed across the driving range, landing about 150 yards away. On this evening at Nevel Meade Golf Course, Jay, and the dozen men around him, looked like a bunch of guys working on their game. But this practice session was much more. Golf is a part of their therapy in the battle against Parkinson’s disease.

“Nice shot, Jay!” said Megan Cash, P.T., DPT, physical therapist at Norton Brownsboro Hospital.

Each year, nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the United States. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that impairs movement, muscle control and balance. It usually affects people between ages 55 and 75, but it also can develop in younger people.

“Parkinson’s is a challenging disease,” Jay said.

To help patients overcome the physical and emotional challenges of the disease, Norton Neuroscience Institute’s Resource Center launched a Parkinson’s Golf Clinic five years ago.  Each spring, summer and fall, Norton Healthcare Parkinson’s patients work on their swings under the watchful eyes of golf pros and Norton Healthcare physical therapists. Bellarmine University physical therapy students also volunteer to help the golfers stretch before each session.

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The clinic helps patients improve their game, but the purpose is much greater.

“We’ve found that golf helps with balance, gait and rotation — things that Parkinson’s patients often struggle with,” Megan said. “It’s also a great form of exercise.”

Jay, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2009, said the clinic has helped knock a stroke or two off his game. He likes the instruction but also the emotional support the clinic provides.

“The comradery of spending time with people fighting the same battle as you are really helps,” he said. “This is a time for us to get together, hit some balls, listen to music and have some fun.”

The Parkinson’s Golf Clinic is open to any patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease who is under the care of a Norton Neuroscience Institute neurology provider. More information about the clinic and other classes offered through Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center can be found here.

Funding for the clinic is provided through the Norton Healthcare Foundation. Learn how you can support this and other initiatives for the community.

Norton Neuroscience Institute

At Norton Neuroscience Institute, our team of nationally recognized neurologists, neurosurgeons and neuropsychologists provide innovative care tailored to the individual needs of our patients. Together with support services from Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center, patients and families have access to numerous clinical trials, specialized rehabilitation services, educational resources and complementary therapies.

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