An inspiring play about Parkinson’s and Parkour is coming to a theatre near you
Author: Geoffrey ChangPublished: 8 September 2016
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A new thought-provoking play that explores the friendship between a free-running teenager and a woman with early-onset Parkinson’s is going on a nationwide tour
After three sell-out shows in cities across the UK and rave reviews, a new Parkinson’s play called Kinetics is taking to the road for a run of 13 performances throughout September and October.
Based on a true story, the inspiring theatre piece explores the unlikely friendship between a teenage boy who is devoted to free running (Parkour) – the extreme sport that involves navigating obstacles without equipment – and a middle-aged woman with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
But what can they possibly have in common? Despite living completely opposing lives, a chance encounter leads the two protagonists to realise the answer: they share the desire to move.
Featuring projected imagery and electrifying live Parkour, the show raises awareness of Parkinson’s with wit, while challenging perceptions and giving a realistic insight into the daily struggles that come with living with the condition.
Written by actor and drama teacher, Sue Wylie, the play recounts her personal experience of living with Parkinson’s. Sue, who performs the lead role, explains: “Five years ago shortly after my 50th birthday I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. After the initial shock I knew I wanted to write about it. I was teaching drama at the time and discovered that a bright but rebellious 16-year-old student in my tutor group was free running on the school roof.
“I was intrigued by the risks he took in his addiction to this extreme sport. How interesting to contrast that with a middle-aged woman whose world of movement is slowly being eroded. What if their paths should accidentally cross and a friendship form? I knew there was a story in there and so Kinetics was born.”
Sue Wylie (left) playing lead character Rose
Through the juxtaposition of the characters the sharp script, full of emotion and humour, unexpectedly draws parallels between two lives that couldn’t seem more opposite. The two learn more important life lessons from one another than they ever could have imagined.
Following the initial success of sold out shows last year, Kinetics received funding from the Arts Council, allowing them to organise the upcoming Autumn 2016 tour. Parkinson’s UK have officially endorsed the play with CEO Steve Ford saying: “Sue’s play offers an inspiring story to which we can all relate.”
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A team of researchers at São Paulo State University, Brazil, have offered insights on why people with Parkinson’s disease can find it more difficult to cross obstacles than those without the condition. As part of the study, 13 people with Parkinson’s disease and 11 controls stepped over an obstacle 15 times, and scientists measured the distance between the foot and the obstacles during the step. They found that step-length synergy – the ability of the musculoskeletal system to adapt movement when encountering an obstacle – was 53% lower in people with the condition. “There are patients in our exercise group who fall three or four times a week,” said Fabio Augusto Barbieri, one of the study authors. “It’s important to understand how these patients’ gait and locomotion adapt while crossing obstacles so that we can improve step-length synergy.”
This April, The World Parkinson Coalition is launching The Parkinson Tulip Project – a global collaborative photography campaign to raise awareness of the world’s fastest growing neurological disease. As part of the campaign, which is supported by Supernus Pharmaceuticals, members of the Parkinson’s community are invited to share a photo of themselves with tulips – the official symbol of Parkinson’s disease. The project will run until April 2022, and all images shared by the community will be displayed at the sixth World Parkinson Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Additionally, every photo submitted will be entered into The Parkinson Tulip Project raffle. The World Parkinson Coalition hopes that the project will “give a face and name to those impacted by Parkinson’s” and “inspire the community, reminding people touched by Parkinson’s disease that they are not alone”.
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Parkinson’s disease symptoms and medications can cause dental health problems – including difficulty cleaning teeth and increased tooth decay. Now, a study from researchers in Brazil has offered dental care recommendations to help people living with the condition. Analysing data from 14 studies, the scientists highlighted people with Parkinson’s can have “reduced quality of oral health and hygiene”. Their advice included routine teeth-brushing, as well as regular trips to a dentist. They also suggested brushing teeth with both hands, as symptoms like tremor and rigidity could mean using one hand is more difficult. The researchers wrote: “Although oral diseases are largely preventable, they are among the most prevalent diseases globally, thus creating a public health problem. “Despite the relatively low level of evidence in studies on oral health among patients with Parkinson’s disease, the data retrieved for this systematic review allowed us to create a set of simple guidelines.”