I recently had the insight that there is a very strong link between learning how to use my hands again and my overall recovery from the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Indeed, my methodology is based largely on the scientific proven concepts of Applied Neuroplasticity: by dedicated and persistent practice we can learn - or relearn - to do most things on automatic or at least more easily. The concept of Curiosity and Play, interrupting stress while applying therapies, is vital for the application of this method to progressive symptom reduction in Parkinson's Disease. In this spirit, I had the intuition that I would be able to play with a pack cards even when I was quite "off" and by practicing manipulating the deck daily, this would significantly improve the dexterity of my hands and hence my overall recovery. I was right.
I find I can shuffle, deal, turn, tidy up, halve and gather the pack of cards. It can be quite stiff and difficult but this seems to be one of those things, like playing with my basketball, which allows me to almost always access some movement, this time for my fingers. Indeed, I find this is giving me more and more knowledge of my hands again. You can see me performing this type of exercise at the end of the video below.
Applied Neuroplasticity tells us that even if things are hard to start off with, it is worth persisting because, as when the neural pathways are consistently strengthened, activities eventually become easier. It also tells us that we need to keep learning new "tricks" for maximal benefit. So I have started learning how to shuffle ambidextrously too. This is an important result to underline: even with PD, it is not only possible to reduce symptoms, but even learn and embed new types of movements. I can now shuffle cards right handed, which I couldn't ever do before my diagnosis.
I also found another curiosity in playing with cards in ways which required different parts of the brain to come in to play, including vision, hand-eye co-ordination and logical calculations. I discovered if I play Patience (Solataire) with a pack cards, while I continue to sustain the activity it can significantly delay wear off of my PD medication, thus extending my "on" time. I have found similar results whilst doing activities such as jigsaw puzzles and also in reading graphic novels. I believe this is due somehow to the production of dopamine in the eyes, see
So I recommend people with Parkinson's pick up a pack of cards and start playing with them to see if this simple idea can help them long term too. There is much to be gained for people with PD in re-learning old tricks and learning totally new ones too.