"Smovey Rings" are a general health and wellness tool that combine exercise and vibration, which have particular beneficial applications for Parkinson's Disease. Indeed, these hand held "rings" were invented by Johann Salzwimmer, an Austrian Tennis player and a person with Parkinson’s, who actually initially designed them specifically to help himself. So it is not hard to understand why these are proving beneficial now with many other people who also have neurological conditions.
They consist, at the most basic level, of corrugated plastic tubes with some steel balls inside. As one swings the rings, the balls move up and down in the tube, causing significant vibrations that travel up the arms into the brain and body. While the idea is simple, the care and attention with which they have been designed is rather interesting: the color, weight, hand grip material, frequency of vibration, etc., are all supposed to be optimal.
My set of Smovey's were donated to the Out-Thinking Parkinson's project back in October 2016 by Irene Treacy of Smoveyhealth. Here is my video diary entry, in which I recorded my first day of playing/dancing with them:
I have been using them almost daily ever since, and have been exploring their use in my own "Curiosity and Play" movement recovery programmes. Below I've included another short film from my video diary, in which my set of rings feature. I hope these demonstrations speak for themselves on how beneficial I have found these versatile tools?
Recently, I was visited by my friend David Spry of Parkinson's Disease Fighter's United, a fellow person with PD. I showed David my set of Smovey's and after playing with them, he did seem to feel they could be beneficial too - I even got him walking with them in such a way that he could swing his arms while he was in an "off" state. So I am now satisfied that the benefits I've personally found will translate to other people with PD (PwP).
A week later I was visited by Irene herself, who showed me how I could more optimally use the rings for my Parkinson's symptom relief, especially the concept of keeping the vibrations going by swinging the arms in such ways that the balls don't collide with the tube ends. Here is a very nice instructional exercise video which Irene made especially for PwP.
However, the most important use that Irene demonstrated to me, which I was, until then, totally oblivious to, is the fact that these also make amazingly therapeutic massage tools. By rocking them back and forth and moving them across the surface of the body, the vibrations are incredibly soothing! I get my caregiver (mum) to rock them on my shoulders whenever I have my flare ups of rigidity and pain.
However, perhaps one of the most important applications of Smovey's in "massage mode", for PwP in particular, is their use in overcoming constipation. In the next video, I explain and demonstrate more about this.
Also, and again particularly for PwP, Irene has demonstrated that applying the Smovey's for massage can have positive benefits on reducing Dyskinesia (the uncontrolled movements which can be a side-effect of PD drugs).
Another application, I discovered for myself, is their use in helping with finger and hand exercises, such as making "yoga mudra" hand shapes, practising which I believe is very important in maintaining, and even recovering, hand and finger functionality with PD.