Mirroring Other People's Moves with Parkinson's Disease


Hi, this is Gary Sharpe. It is the 22nd of March 2016.

In this video I want to talk about mirroring. Now, it’s well known that doing things like dance classes, boxing classes and tai chi is extremely beneficial for reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

What we think we have distilled from these experiences is the concept of mirroring. Copying people, like the “Simon Says” game we used to play as children is very important [in helping to promote movement]. And in these classes, typically there is someone at the front of the class and you mirror what they do.

So in this video, you will see me on the left hand side is when I recorded some movements while I was in a good state, and later, on the right hand side, you will see me when I came back and I filmed myself watching the original video and copying it.

Although I’m very stiff, I can copy quite easily [compared to not having the visual stimulus] what I was doing earlier. We think this is an important part of Parkinson’s which is poorly understood, but is very powerful [as discussed in our article about caring for someone with Parkinson's].

By continually practicing these mirroring techniques, it helps you unlock your movement again.

Although I’m not trying to fully extend, I’m not trying to copy exactly, I’m just trying to follow the moves as best I can. Depending on the state of the symptoms depends on how well I can copy.


We did think about creating a video of exercises to mirror and follow, so other people could practice these techniques daily too. However, in creating such videos and then practicing at different stages of the Parkinson's cycle, I found the optimal speed of motion and the types of movements which worked best changed. We therefore believe that working with a primary carer in developing your own programme of mirroring exercises, or creating your own set of videos personalized to yourself will be more effective.


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