Art for Parkinson's  is an innovative art programme for people living with Parkinson's.


Designed to provide a "can do" activity for people whose abilities have been compromised by Parkinson's, a typical class begins with a "cuppa" and a chat.  We then begin with a time to calm the nervous system through guided breathing exercises to focus the mind, followed by stretching to kick start the body into action.


Making the first mark, which leads to another, is in itself a major achievement for people who find writing difficult.  Although communication through speech is often compromised with Parkinson's, self expression flows through the use of a variety of materials and subjects.  This, in turn, encourages confident experimentation. 


There's no right or wrong ... just wonderful, creative, self expression.  We like to say that "MAGIC HAPPENS" and the great thing is that no experience is required!


Curiously, evidence suggests that creative ability is enhanced by Parkinson's disease.  Certainly it seems that when the activity "kicks in" there is no stopping the artist at work. *


Art for Parkinson's provides people affected by Parkinson’s, a tool to reduce anxiety towards the disease and a way of adapting to the changes involved.  The aim is to keep feeling full and autonomous.


Objective and Outcomes of the programme:

- Develop creativity, spontaneity and the potential of each individual, with the goal of recovering the value of their individuality.

- Explore their capabilities in the creative process to promote good adaptation to the limitations of movement caused by the disease.

- Enhance fundamental cognitive functions such as: attention, memory, executive functions and coordination, which are frequently affected by the disease.

- Provide a place to regain their freedom in decision-making, experiment and test ideas in the creative process, thus increasing one´s capacity for self-management.

- Encourage relaxation.

- Provide a safe and enjoyable space where one can express and share issues that tend to be difficult to articulate and confront.

- Promote an improvement in communication with his or herself and with others, through the creative process.


In summary, Art for Parkinson's is a contribution to the improvement of health, directing the mind to different levels where the visual mode prevails on the logical and connects the person with their creativity.  This is very important for someone who has to adapt to certain limitations and a new situation due to a disease like Parkinson’s. **


Research


Research shows that in addition to medications, there are some activities that ease motor symptoms and improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with Parkinson's.  

Through recent studies Dr Julie H. Carter, Professor of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University and Associate Director at the OHSU Parkinson Centre of Oregon, states that an individual can have some control over the symptoms of Parkinson's by teaching the brain to change and adapt to new circumstances, an ability called neuroplasticity.

Scientific evidence now suggests that certain activities - exercise, social connectedness and creativity - may not only be therapeutic for Parkinson's symptoms, but may actually change the brain and allow it to form new pathways of communication among brain cells.

This research builds on that of Professor Lakke, a Dutch neurologist who found that creativity or originality of artists who developed Parkinson's was not impoverished and, in fact, artists remained amazingly productive despite considerable and limiting motor fluctuations.  Professor Lakke suggested that autocuing, or using clues and triggers to initiate activity, might be circumventing the impaired motor programmes.  This concept is being explored in depth by the Movement Disorder Clinic in Melbourne, Australia and the Conductive Education Centre in Birmingham, UK.

The methodology used in each Art for Parkinson's session supports the findings of these areas of research.


*www.paintingwithparkinsons.org.au

**Sally Schofield,MA Art Therapy UB,President Association of Art Therapy, Ate.  Published in Catparkinson,  Rev. Catalan Association for Parkinson’s, Jan.-March 2007, Nº3.