Can Ping-Pong help people with Parkinson's disease?

Published: Dec. 29, 2017 at 2:24 PM EST
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They meet every week for table tennis. The players have Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, causing symptoms such as tremors.

Nenad Bach is a musician and composer. He founded Ping-Pong for Parkinson's after his own diagnosis left him unable to perform his music.

"My right hand started to shake a little bit," he said.

While there are no studies showing Ping-Pong helps with Parkinson's, Bach's neurologist, Dr. David Russell, says the rhythm and balance involved in the game could be beneficial.

"He clearly got better when he delved into Ping-Pong, and it's something we should look at the way we look very scientifically at Tai Chi, Tango dance; this is an area worth exploring," said Russell of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut.

Andy Schloat has been living with Parkinson's for 14 years. He's not sure if the game is helping his symptoms but he says the camaraderie lifts his spirits.

"Everyone is really friendly. If it works for Parkinson's-- that's great!" Schloat said.

Next year, Bach says he plans to host a national Ping-Pong for Parkinson's tournament. He's also releasing a new album.

"I think the best is yet to come," he said.

And he's not giving up hope for a cure.

About 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year in the U.S.