South East Wales

PD Warrior Parkinson's trial in Newport is Wales' first

PD Warrior exercise regime at the Morrello Clinic in Newport

A physiotherapy programme which aims to improve the mobility and confidence of people with Parkinson's disease has been trialled for the first time in Wales.

PD Warrior is an exercise regime that claims to slow down the onset of Parkinson's symptoms.

Participants at the private Morrello Clinic in Newport said the treatment works and should be free on the NHS.

The Welsh Government and Parkinson's UK said more clinical studies are needed.

The clinic has been running a 10-week course in the exercise regime, which was developed five years ago in Australia.

Jenni McCabbe, 67, from Newport, is paying £350 for the training because she has mobility issues caused by Parkinson's.

"I wish I'd started 16 years ago, it would have been very helpful," she said.

"PD Warrior is teaching me to make large dynamic movements.

"I've written to the head of research at Parkinson's UK to evaluate it and have it rolled out into the NHS if possible."

Image caption Jenni McCabbe volunteers as secretary of the Newport branch of Parkinson's UK
Image caption Malcolm Williams said he was "very impressed" by the PD Warrier programme

Jason King, an exercise physiologist from Sydney, Australia, is leading the Welsh trial of PD Warrior.

He said the training was different because it combines over-exaggerated movement with mental tasks.

"It might be saying girl's names up through the alphabet or counting backwards from 30," he said.

"You keep your mind going while keeping the intensity in the exercise up, which is challenging and that's what we want."

Research in Australia has suggested the training can encourage "neuroplasticity" or a rewiring of the brain around areas damaged by Parkinson's.

But more study is needed before the treatment can be endorsed in Britain, according to Parkinson's UK.

Image caption Exercise physiologist Jason King and Barbara Locke, director of Parkinson's UK in Wales

The director of the charity in Wales, Barbara Locke, said she was pleased PD Warrior is available as a private treatment in Wales.

"We think it's a great opportunity to find out more about the programme and how it can benefit people with Parkinson's," she said.

"But we're very clear - it isn't to be seen as a cure and we certainly don't have evidence that it halts the symptoms or slows them down in any way."

In a statement, the Welsh Government said it was watching the trial in Newport "with interest".

It has committed £1.2m on improving services for people living with long-term neurological conditions like Parkinson's.

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