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The Neuro Trainer

What is a Neuro Trainer?

According to FitPro magazine (Winter 2018) a neuro trainer is:

“An exercise professional [L4] who is skilled at working with neurodegenerative conditions; someone who sits between a regular physio and a regular personal trainer & who talks the language of both.”

Neurodegenerative conditions affect the wiring of the brain. These conditions include Parkinson’s disease (PD), Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and acquired brain injury.

The current care pathway for these conditions:

“...comes to a shuddering halt with physios and occupational therapists (OTs)......and sadly, you’ve probably reached the end of the road without ever accessing a meaningful exercise programme that could change your life.”

A Neuro trainer who has attended one of the level 4 specialist courses, will understand the pathophysiology of MS, PD & Stroke. They are familiar with key symptoms such as bradykinesia, tremor, rigidity and postural instability, & they know what kind of exercise is required to combat them.

They also know about medications and their side effects. They know how to test & assess progress and are aware of the cognitive & emotional challenges that these patients can face.

“In my opinion, the individual will know more about exercise for PD, MS and Stroke, than the vast majority of GP’s, neurologists, OTs and physios (notwithstanding neuros).”

Exercise programmes led by a Neuro trainer, will involve neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself given the right stimulus. I liken neuroplasticity to a google map, where several routes are given from A to B - given lots of repetition of one movement or exercise, the brain begins to rewire or re-route the neuromuscular pathways between A and B.

The right kind of exercise opens up the possibility that the functionality of brains that have been compromised by a loss of dopamine (PD), demyelination (MS), or hypoxia (Stroke) can be restored to some degree by the rewiring process, known as neurogenesis.

Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, involve the following factors within an exercise setting: Intensity, duration, repetition, specificity, age, transference, interference and most importantly:

“Use it or loose it and improve it”

If the above factors are integrated into an exercise setting for neurological conditions and the right kinds of exercises are practised over & over again, this will ensure:

“......that as few brain cells as possible are destroyed going forward (neuroprotection).”

If you suffer from any of the above neurodegenerative conditions and feel that you have been left on the shelf by your physio, GP, neurologist or OT, seek out the help of a neurophysiotherapist, specialist nurses or Neuro Trainer.

Here are some useful contacts:

1. Parkinson’s UK

2. Michael J Fox Foundation

3. ActiveMSers

4. Stroke Association

5. Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland

6. PD Warriors

7. Headway

(all quotes are from FitPro magazine, Winter 2018)