Movement Disorder Specialists   -

Pasadena, CA

Dance Class Gets Parkinson's Patients Moving

Pasadena is home to the Lineage Performing Arts Center, a refuge for people with Parkinson’s disease. Lineage offers a variety of outreach classes where members can train to regain control of their body while learning to dance. Their free class, Dancing with Parkinson’s, is one of the few programs that blurs the line between art and physical therapy, and people of all ages are welcome. Every year, Lineage hosts a dance show where members get to show off their skills.

Even though Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that causes uncontrollable tremors, pain, rigidity, and problems with stability, depression is not uncommon. Students of the class insist it improves their lives. 48-year-old Trish Low has had intense pain ever since undergoing an invasive surgery in which a pacemaker that generates electrical impulses was implanted in her brain. She sought the class to “find some joy” and ended up with friends and increased self-confidence. “To know that I can still shake my booty a little bit, it’s good for my soul.” It has become not only a movement for health and physical fitness, but also for well-being, personal fulfillment, and a meaningful aesthetic experience.

Over two years ago, the company was already performing benefit concerts for medical nonprofits across the country, but in 2009 when dance instructor Michelle Kolb saw footage in a documentary about a dance class from the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), she was inspired to bring David Leventhal, program manager of MMDG’s Dance for PD program, to Pasadena for a training workshop. To this day, they now have more than 1,500 students and a lively community.

At the end of the day, dancers and people with Parkinson’s disease have a lot in common. Professionally-trained dancers are experts in strength, balance, and rhythm. They know about the power of dance as a force of meditation on movement, mind, and body. Dance for PD began as a support group and grew into a catalyst in creating other Parkinson’s communities where participants can explore well-being through singing, yoga, and various performance arts. "Although participants from all over the world tell us they find elements of the class therapeutic, the primary goal of our program is for people to enjoy dance for dancing’s sake in a group setting—and to explore the range of physical, artistic and creative possibilities that are still very much open to them,” says Leventhal.

Lineage Dance

You can take the Lineage Dancing with Parkinson’s class for free at the Lineage Performing Arts Center on Wednesdays at 2:00 pm. They also offer Dancing through Cancer and Dancing with Down Syndrome. Visit for more information.

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Holiday Health Help & Hype: A Guide to Natural Immune Boosters

Holiday Health Help and Hype A Guide To Natural Immune Boosters

As calendar winter winds down, the weather can be at its coldest and it is exactly the kind of environment that is not very conducive to good health. Fresh vegetables may not be available as much and the motivation to exercise tends to drop. It is tempting to prepare for winter colds and other health problems, but not all remedies have been able to withstand scientific scrutiny. Dr. Moshe Lewis in a recent article distinguishes between common health supplements that are shown to be health boosters and supplements that don’t quite live up to the hype.

In general there are many obstacles to determine if an herbal product is effective or not. Most patients and physicians are not aware that products available under the same herbal name, for example supplements with the name Echinacea differ considerably in their composition (including different plants, e.g. Echinacea purpurea versus Echinacea angustifolia), use of variable plant parts (e.g. roots versus leaves) extraction methods (e.g. drying versus alcohol extractions) and the addition of other components. These obstacles are also seen in studies testing different things but calling it the same and then generalizing the results.


This article had a guest contribution by Dr. Moshe Lewis -

To read the full article, visit

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Exercise Guidelines & Principals for Individuals Living with Parkinson's Disease

I’m often asked about what kinds or modes of exercise are both appropriate and effective for those wanting to empower themselves and do what they can to improve their condition. There are many exercise disciplines that can help, but essentially an exercise program for individuals with Parkinson’s should be both enjoyable and customized to the individual’s current status. The primary objective is to improve or maintain function by addressing the following physiological aspects through exercise:

  • Posture
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Proprioception (the sense of the relative positioning of your body and limbs in space)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Movement initiation
  • Coordination of body and limb movement
  • Multitasking

Parkinson’s Disease & Exercise: Fighting Back

There is much you can do to make life better, and the process can be enjoyable and fun. Pursuing a coordinated fitness program has proven to be extremely effective in empowering individuals living with Parkinson’s disease to fight back and improve their quality of life. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, but a properly designed exercise program has been shown to significantly delay, slow, and even reverse the onset of some Parkinson’s symptoms.

There will be good days and bad days but be courageous and be heartened by the fact that you can improve your quality of life, no matter what your age or level of PD involvement. Every time you complete a workout, you’ve won a battle. So get going and take charge. Medications administered for this disease have made great strides, but daily exercise and physical activity are essential in maximizing their benefits. It can be wonderfully motivating to know that with a comprehensive approach to fitness, you can exercise your right to live life to its fullest!

There are four major components of a properly designed exercise program that you should be aware of to competently address the above physiological aspects:

  • Muscle Strength
  • Cardiovascular Fitness
  • Posture & Flexibility
  • Balance & Coordination

Exercise Guidelines  Principals for Individuals Living with PD

Muscle Strength

Increasing the strength of your muscles is the foundation of your fitness program. This will improve your stability and confidence. Strength training with weight bearing exercises or resistance bands is a wonderful, safe way to build muscle and increase strength. But there are other important adaptations that occur in your body through a progressive strength training program. The connective tissues of our bodies, ligaments, and tendons also adapt and are strengthened as a result of a resistance training program. Bone density is another vitally important element to address as we age. Weight bearing exercises help us avoid conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteopenia or osteoporosis by building strong joints and sturdy bones.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Walking, swimming, running, biking, boxing, dance, and movement disciplines such as tai chi are great and safe ways of conditioning the aerobic system. The function of the cardiovascular system is important in improving circulation, respiration, heart function, muscular endurance, and alertness. The best way to train this energy system is through concentrated, repeated movement that tasks your aerobic system for a specific duration of time. In other words, focus your exercise, get your heart rate up, and keep it up for the length of your workout. Then, the next week, try a small increase to the level of exertion, or the duration. People often ask me what the best activity for aerobic exercise is. The specific activity you choose is not that important, but it should be one that safely raises your heart rate above to which it is accustomed, and an exercise activity that you enjoy. Walking or running, and the stationary bike are wonderful modes of exercise for those with PD. If balance makes walking or running difficult, the bike or elliptical machine are great and safe ways to cause cardiovascular improvement.

Your Central Nervous System (CNS) will also benefit from exploring other, unfamiliar modes of aerobic exercise. Forcing the CNS to adapt to a different, repetitive activity is powerful therapy for the individual with Parkinson’s. Anytime you can challenge your brain to reach out to the body through the CNS and perform a new movement, it’s a wonderful, therapeutic reinforcement of the mind-body connection. You could start with a simple 20 minute brisk walk, 3 times a week. The following week, add a fourth walk. The following week, add 2 minutes to each walk, etc.

Posture & Flexibility

Parkinson’s can create stiffness of movement and muscle tone as well as bradykenesia or slowness of movement. A great way to combat this symptom, and even reverse some of its effects, is a comprehensive flexibility program. Range of motion exercises can also help minimize muscle stiffness. Understanding proper posture and practicing good posture every day, is extremely beneficial. Knowing how we maintain correct spinal position, and the mechanics of how we should stand, how we should sit, how we should move, and how we should lift objects is critical to preserving and restoring spinal health. This will also reduce the chance of a dangerous fall. Exercises that create muscle memory or a muscular imprint of proper posture should be practiced every day. Every time you move, change position, or bend down and lift a gallon of milk is an opportunity to reset and practice good posture. Get into the habit!

Balance and Coordination

As Parkinson’s progresses it makes things that were once automatic and easy, challenging. Thus, we must begin to understand the methodology of movement, and practice techniques for everyday mobility. So, we must first intellectually understand what our body must do in order to achieve an action. We must know all of the specific steps that must be executed, and in which order. Being mindful of our movement throughout the day is now important. Strategies such as getting out of a chair, descending a flight of stairs, and getting in and out of a car now have a method and need to be intellectualized, memorized, and practiced. Exercises requiring a proprioceptive skill and stabilization reinforce the brain’s ability to activate muscles and maintain your balance.

How much should I exercise?

That’s easy to remember. You should do something every day! You don’t need to perform a full workout each day, but you should incorporate at least two of the four major components of exercise every day of the week. It’s important to stay active and engaged with life, so empower yourself, challenge yourself, and get up and exercise your right to have a healthy and happy life.

Take charge of your own wellbeing. Empower yourself and improve your quality of life by finding activities you enjoy. Exercise should now be a part of your daily life. It’s never too late to join the fight and see tangible results that make things just a bit better. That’s a battle that you can win.

Patrick LoSasso

By Patrick LoSasso, Certified Personal Trainer, CSCS.

Patrick is on the Board of Directors of The American Parkinson’s Disease Association Los Angeles Chapter. Patrick has developed a specialization in working with individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) called ReGenerations-PD (Rejuvenating Exercises for the Generations living with Parkinson’s Disease). Above is an excerpt from his exercise manual The BrainBall-FX. If you have any questions you may email him

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Walk On: The Causes and Treatments for 'Foot Drop'

Walk On  The Causes and Treatments for  Foot Drop

Dr. Moshe Lewis, colleague and esteemed pain management specialist, and was interviewed for an article about foot drop on Foot drop is when the front of one’s foot hangs lower than it should due to a weakened or damaged nerve or muscle in the lower part of the leg. Individuals with foot drop will drag their toes along the group or will bend their knees in order to not drag their feet. In this article Danielle Bullen discusses how doctors and hospitals use exercises, as well as convectional and alternative treatments to ensure those with foot drop walk safely again.

Foot Drop Conditions

From exercise to medications to modalities, clinicians have a lot of tools at their disposal to treat foot drop. Just as its causes are many, so are the treatments. While the same approach may not work for each patient, trial and error can help doctors and physical therapists figure out the best possible outcomes.

Foot drop is not a disease itself, but rather a symptom that develops as a result of various neurological, muscular or anatomical problems. Patients who suffer have difficulty lifting the front part of their foot due to muscle weakness or paralysis. Sometimes they drag their toes along the floor as they walk.

Finding the Cause

Some of the common reasons patients present with foot drop include stroke, spinal cord injury or injury to the peroneal nerve on the outside of the fibula, below the knee. ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis can also lead to foot drop. Patients who have had a total knee replacement can also present with foot drop, although that is less likely. Moshe Lewis, MD, MPH, chief of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, described one unique case where a surfing accident lacerated someone’s peroneal nerve, causing foot drop.

The Old and The New

Other than exercise, clinicians have other options to treat foot drop. “We’re seeing a blend of the old and the new,” said Dr. Moshe regarding treatment. He cited vitamin therapy, particularly B6, as helpful. Nerve medications, which are relatively new on the scene, decrease pain and improve nerve function without peripheral swelling. Topical pain medications are another new development but Dr. Moshe advised his fellow physicians to use them wisely.


This article had a guest contribution by Dr. Moshe Lewis -

The original article is on

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April Qigong Classes in Alhambra, CA


Yonemoto Physical Therapy, located in Alhambra, is now offering several qigong classes in April 2012. Here is their press release for their upcoming classes:

Want to get more energy, feel revitalized, have less stress, rid yourself of aches and pains with gentle, no impact movements? Then come take a qigong class with us. There will be three new qigong classes starting up in April. The classes will be held in YPT’s gym located at 25 S. Raymond Ave. Suite 100, Alhambra CA, 91801. For more information or to sign up please call us at (626) 576–0591.

Level 1 starts April 16th from 7PM to 8:30PM. It goes for 7 sessions. The first session is free.

Level 2 starts April 21st from 11AM to 12:30PM. Price per class is $30.

Level 3 starts April 21st from 9AM to 10:30AM. Price per class is $30.

What is Qigong?

Qigong — pronounced “kee kung” — teaches you how to focus your breath, movement, and awareness for when you’re exercising, meditating, or another healing act. It translates roughly to “life force practice” or “life force mastery.” Qigong’s root lies in the martial arts, Chinese medicine, and Chinese philosophy. Many are familiar with the concept of “Qi” or “intrinsic life energy” and how it is used in acupuncture. Qigong applies this concept to achieve a more productive exercise and meditation routine.


Yonemoto Physical Therapy is run by Sheila and Stan Yonemoto

Get in touch with Yonemoto Physical Therapy to signup for these Qigong classes today.

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10 Easy Steps to Jumpstart Your Weight Management Program

10 Easy Steps to Jumpstart Your Weight Management Program

This article was written by Dr. Moshe Lewis, The Pain Coach

Creating a weight loss lifestyle in 2012 doesn’t have to seem like an insurmountable goal. Break down your goals into smaller, more attainable pieces that will have you creating healthy eating habits, rather than shedding pounds using crash dieting methods that won’t last.

Weight loss is an excellent resolution to have in spite of how difficult it may seem. Although there are many diets and fads that come and go, even a 10-pound weight loss can improve your health and your risk for diseases associated with obesity, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Here are ten easy steps to jumpstart your weight management program

  1. Accept that weight management is an achievable goal
    If you approach weight management with the frame of mind that small steps will make a big difference over time, then the idea of losing weight will not seem so complex.

  2. Make a plan to succeed
    Identify 10 food items that you currently purchase that you know are bad for you and that you can live without. Make a consistent plan to start eliminating two of these items each week from your grocery list.

  3. Contact a nutritionist and make an appointment
    Every individual should have a customized plan tailored to their age, weight, height, metabolism and activity level. This plan is best created with a professional who will dedicate time to working with you one on one.

  4. Schedule regular exercise
    Make it a goal to double the distance that you walk each day until you are walking at least 30 minutes each day.

  5. Set realistic goals
    Rapid weight loss that can’t be sustained only results in frustration. The goal should be to lose approximately 1-2 pounds every week. Depending on how much you choose to lose, over the course of a year this would result in a substantial amount of weight loss.

  6. Develop a support system
    It is important to join a support group and to develop a network of individuals who are committed to your success. Some of the most accessible groups exist at Weight Watchers, and faith-based organizations. Check your health plan for resources that also may be able to help you maintain your goals.It is important to check your weight regularly. Every week you should check your weight in the morning before you get dressed, on the same scale.

  7. Positive reinforcement
    Feel good about the success that you are making and provide a small reward for yourself each week that is not food related. Some excellent suggestions include a manicure, a massage, taking a scenic walk, purchasing a new CD or new clothing item.

  8. Congratulate yourself
    Weight loss is similar to a marathon that is not always won by leaps and bounds. The goal is to stay focused on your goal even if there are small setbacks from time to time.

  9. Love yourself
    While absolute weight loss is a goal, it is important to love yourself no matter what your size may be.


This article was written by Dr. Moshe Lewis, The Pain Coach and was featured on You Cant Outsource Weight Loss.

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Fitness Components for Conditioning the Mature Adult

Fitness training can be beneficial for everyone including mature adults. There is no doubt the aging process affects the body and in turn adversely effects activities of daily living. Learn which steps can limit and even reverse the effects of age. MOVE: as a mature adult get back into the game of living life to the fullest.

Fitness training can be beneficial for everyone including mature adults. There is no doubt the aging process affects the body and in turn adversely effects activities of daily living. Learn which steps can limit and even reverse the effects of age. MOVE: as a mature adult get back into the game of living life to the fullest.

Fitness exercises and training can be very beneficial for the mature adult. The aging process decreases mobility, limits flexibility, negates strength, and lowers energy levels. All which are crucial components in the achievement of the activities of daily living. 

The good news is there is help: certain steps can be taken to alleviate these symptoms of the aging process. For example, modifications in your surrounding environment can help, changes in body mechanics can be of great benefit, and the implementation of a fitness program can be of immense assistance as well. These three steps can assist in returning your body to a level previously achieved or to an improved state of an even higher level than ever before. In order for this to occur, the mature adult must remember it is a combination of all three of these parameters; environment, body mechanics, and fitness training working seamlessly together. 

Fitness Components for Conditioning the Mature Adult

Looking at the fitness side for better living as a mature adult, are a few statistics which may provide some relatively important information concerning exercises for improvement of energy. First and foremost, research indicates after the age of 25, the body looses muscle mass at approximately 1% a year. This decreases both the strength and energy power outputs of the neuromuscular system. If nothing is done to improve both the strength and power outputs of the body by the time an individual is 50 years old they will have lost 25% of their muscle mass. 

Why is this statistic relatively important to adults as they mature? 

In order to complete each phase of the activities of daily living efficiently, the neuromuscular system must have certain levels of strength. This allows the person to maintain a fixed spine angle, execute the proper postural position required in the activity, and generate speed to complete the task. Basically, a loss of strength equates to the loss of stability in the activity affecting every phase of the movement pattern from start to finish. 

A second component of the aging process relative to everyday living is mobility and flexibility. Mobility is a combination of both joint range of motion and flexibility. Joint range of motion concerns itself with the actual articular structure of the joint (i.e. skeletal structures), and flexibility has to do with extensibility of muscle tissue surrounding the joint. 

The aging process decreases the extensibility of muscular tissues thus causing tightness in the muscular system and decreased mobility in the joint system. Both of these conditions are detrimental to completing everyday tasks such as bending over to put on a pair of socks or reaching up and across towards a high shelf to grab a glass. The mechanics of these activities requires mobility within the joint system and flexibility within the muscular system. This allows for the required loads of movements through a large range of motion to be met by the body. If mobility is limited and “tightness” exists within the muscular system, compensations within the body will occur in an attempt to execute the mechanics of the task correctly. 

It is unfortunate the aging process results in the aforementioned negative affects on movement, but as stated previously, steps can be taken to address such situations and prevent decreased activity in life. These steps on the “physical side” of the equation are contained within a fitness program.


By Regina Tula, NASM-CPT,CES,


Privately run by Regina Tula, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified corrective exercise specialist and personal trainer. ADA Fitness is dedicated to bringing an appreciation to the God given body people are born with, through fitness tools and massage. The two go hand in hand. Flexibility, strength, power, and endurance are the keys to movement and a healthy body no matter what age, condition or size you are.
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