Wes Plummer has achieved 11 holes-in-one during his many years as a golf enthusiast, but such feats are a breeze compared to the challenge he now faces.
The North Dakota Golf Association Hall of Fame member was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago. He’s now a charter member of a new exercise program recently launched by Trinity Health Exercise Physiology called Delay the Disease™.
Delay the Disease is a fitness and mobility program aimed specifically at improving the physical, mental, and emotional realities of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Tanya Gillen, ACE, a certified personal trainer, spearheaded the program. She says the universal benefits of exercise are well-established and, therefore, it’s no surprise that exercise would also hold specific benefits for people with PD.
“My experience working with Parkinson’s patients has reinforced my conviction that regular exercise is the key to managing the disease and living a better life,” she said. “Specifically, it helps by slowing the progression of the disease, managing symptoms, and avoiding isolation.”
Gillen completed a Delay the Disease certification course in July. She says the program, developed by OhioHealth, consists of symptom-specific exercises designed to optimize function and restore as much independence as possible to patients experiencing the typical symptoms of tremor, muscle rigidity, and impaired balance. “We emphasize big movements, coordination, and multi-tasking,” she said, noting that each exercise session includes the key ingredients of flexibility exercises, aerobic activity, and resistance training.
Delay the Disease classes began September 3 and are scheduled to run for 12 weeks each Tuesday and Friday at the Minot Family YMCA. The program includes two class levels: a basic level scheduled at 11 a.m. and an intermediate level that is held at 2 p.m. Program cost is $60 for YMCA members and $90 for non-members.
Gillen’s inaugural class drew well over a dozen participants, and Gillen hopes more will sign up. “I’m excited to see how this program will impact people,” she said. “After completing the training, the first thing I said when I got back to Minot was ‘This has the potential to change people’s lives’.”
Parkinson’s disease affects patients in different ways. “I tend to go backwards, which puts me at risk of falling,” said Plummer.
“One of the things we’ve worked on with Wes is developing strategies to adjust his posture and stance so when goes backward he can stabilize himself,” Gillen said.
Plummer has been an inspiration to Gillen and others affected by Parkinson’s disease. Since he was diagnosed he and Janie, his wife and care partner, have pursued every avenue to slow the effects of PD including exercise, physical therapy, speech therapy, and a boxing training program called Rock Steady, which is offered where the Plummers winter in North Carolina.
“Anything we can do to keep him active is good,” Janie said. “Without it I believe he’d be walking with a walker or even be in a wheelchair.”
People who wish to sign up for Delay the Disease or who need more information may contact Trinity Health’s Exercise Physiology Department at 701-857-5626.