A Body in Motion: Moving with Parkinson’s

A retired dentist with Young-Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD), Dr. Jane Busch hasn’t stopped moving to the rhythm, and she’s not alone. Knowing from personal experience the benefits of exercise in relieving the symptoms of PD, Busch is excited to be part of helping the movement grow. She talks Zumba, teaching exercise, and paying it forward with the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association.

Madison Magazine: You stay rather active in the APDA-WI branch, in more ways than one. Can you elaborate on a few of your roles with the organization?

Jane Bausch: I’m currently serving on the Board of Directors and have been the Exercise Committee Chair since 2011. In addition to volunteering with fundraisers, I am a certified instructor and teach PD Zumba, PD in Motion and Parkinson's Exercise classes at UW Health Sports Medicine & Fitness Center.

MM:  That’s a lot of movement. What’s the story behind all the exercise programs?

JB: After I was diagnosed with YOPD in 2008, I discovered dance, like Zumba, relieved the motor symptoms of PD and improved my balance and agility.

MM: How did Zumba help you with your diagnosis?

JB: Most people would say PD has changed their life. For me, Zumba has changed my life. Even with PD, I am now more fit than ever. Though I may wake up stiff and slow, one hour of Latin dancing allows me to be virtually symptom free the rest of the day.

MM: These classes hadn’t been offered by the APDA previously. Was it difficult to implement them in the Madison area?

JB: Research is now substantiating the benefits of exercise for slowing the progression of PD and improving quality of life.  With the assistance of the Wisconsin Chapter of APDA, Madison became the first city in the U.S. to offer PD Zumba, one of the first to offer boxing and is unique in creating new fitness programs such as PD in Motion, PD Rhythm and the Step by Step Pedometer Walking program.

MM: You’re the Zumba instructor for the Madison area. What made you decide to dedicate your time and energies to these classes?

JB: I guess you would say I am paying it forward. I hope when I get to that later stage, someone is there for me to keep me engaged with life and people. Dance has been my Parkinson’s therapy, and now I have the opportunity to share it with others. These participants give me as much support and motivation as I give them.

MM: Sounds like a give and receive relationship.

JB: Absolutely. The people are my favorite part of APDA; they all give from their hearts. And my fellow PD’ers inspire me the most with their positive attitude, determination and sense of humor. We are a community of spirit and compassion.

MM: The people seem to be just as influential as the movement in helping ease the symptoms of PD.  Are there any moments that stand out in your mind that encompass the spirit of Zumba and the effect it has on you and others?

JB: In the PD in Motion class I teach, there is one gentleman who is confined to a wheelchair. His favorite song is “Has Anybody Seen My Gal,” and when I play it, he rises from his wheel chair, takes both my hands and shuffles right and left mouthing the words. His eyes sparkle with the memories of the years before PD—years when he danced with grace and fluidity. This is what makes it all worthwhile.

MM: Speaking of worthwhile, what stands out in your many accomplishments with APDA?

JB: I am most proud of PD in Motion because it accepts people with more advanced PD who use walkers and wheel chairs. No other class will take them because of poor balance and limited mobility. These participants give 110% and support each other. The joy and pride when they move their bodies to the beat of the music melts my heart and inspires me.

MM: That’s an impressive feat. Is there anything else you’re proud of?

JB: On a personal note, I am also proud of my first publication, The Magic of Movement, a manual and DVD about Parkinson's exercises. I felt a need to offer a more thorough fitness plans to our still active PD’ers.

MM: You’ve given so much to this organization. How does your work make Madison a better place to live?

JB: Improving the quality of life of just one Madisonian with PD makes it a better place to live. Madison is a”fit” city, and fitness should be available to everyone, especially those with a movement disorder. Madison, by supporting these programs, shows that it gets it.

MM: In addition to all these classes, you stay active on the APDA-WI Board of Directors and help plan the organization’s various fundraisers in support of programs such as PD in Motion and PD Zumba. What would you say to others who want to volunteer with the organization?

JB: The rewards far outnumber the time and effort. We make a difference!

You can join the movement with Jane at the APDA’s annual Wine Tasting on Saturday, February 9. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club, 3606 Blackhawk Dr. Funds benefit Parkinson’s exercise programs in Wisconsin. Tickets are available at the door. More event information is available here. Also visit wichapterapda.org for more information about the organization.

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