A simple bat & ball set was just about the first thing I bought when I started exploring toys which could help me unlock movement to start pushing back my Parkinson's Disease symptoms. Once I began to play with them while my PD drugs weren't working - in an "off" state in which I didn't have my much access to movement - it was a complete revelation! The shear degree of movement that suddenly came back in just playing "keep it up" with the bat and ball was a joy, especially in terms of neck movement and core rotation. The fact that while I was doing it, much of my other symptoms (rigidity, unfocused eyes, breathing problems, pain) went away, at least in the moment of play, was massive in re-thinking about my condition, and how to live well with it.
I knew then that there was nothing wrong with either my muscles or brain, and that full movement was and is still there somewhere. Therefore, the argument that my PD was due to dead cells in a bean sized area of my brain no longer producing dopamine - and therefore no more movement for me - simply could not be the whole picture. Rather, the movement pathways must still there, but some form of physiological and/or mental block was preventing their access. What playing with a bat and ball will hopefully help convince other people with PD of is these blocks can be temporarily overcome with the right external stimulus. I encourage anyone with PD to get a bat and ball and just play, at a time when they are stiff but have some energy and don't have too much brain fog. I am hopeful it will be an convincing experience!
The important elements which the bat & ball bring back into play include the hands, the eyes (tracking. focusing) and their combination (hand-eye co-ordination), the senses of balance and body awareness (where the extremities are). The sound of the ball as it hits the bat is important too. All these things are Vagus Nerve/Para-sympathetic Nervous System stimulating, associated with a relaxed body state ... and this is no co-incidence, as explained in my articles:
Here is a video of me in action with the bat and ball, back in March 2016. A transcript of the voice over is provided below..
Hello, this is Gary Sharpe, it is 17th March 2016.
In this video, I want to talk to you about the importance of play in recovering from Parkinson’s Disease.
You will see me start very stiff with Bradykinesia, the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Just by using a simple bat and ball and hand-eye-coordination, you can see how I unlock the movement in my body.
This is not a curiosity because, first of all, while I’m doing this it relieves the symptoms, some of the stiffness and pain in the muscles. Secondly, by daily practice it helps me move.
And here is a real application. See how I got straight up there? If I hadn’t done the bat and ball, I could be frozen in that chair. Freezing is a symptom of Parkinson’s Disease, where you just get stuck. Typically it is very hard to get up out of chairs.
And see how it helps me move.