Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Tennis balls for tremor treatment

Patients use tennis balls for exercise
Patients use the tennis balls to help improve coordination

Hundreds of patients in the East Midlands are using a supply of free tennis balls to help control the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The tennis balls were donated to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust by the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Parkinson's disease patients experience a stiffening of the fingers which makes simple everyday tasks difficult.

The tennis balls are used in a series of exercises to help reduce stiffness in the hands and aid tremor reduction.

Stiff palms

Physiotherapist Sandy Gill asked for the donation after she noticed that tennis balls that were no longer bouncy enough were being given away.

Patient Rita Lambert said: "It helps with the stretching of the fingers and with the muscles in your arms. I need to stretch them because they get stiff and I seize up."

Patients are encouraged to roll the tennis balls in the palm of their hands to keep fingers supple and to roll them along the table to stretch out their fingers and help increase manual dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination.

Ms Gill said: "These simple exercises can play a beneficial role in helping Parkinson's patients retain their hand mobility, making everyday tasks easier to perform.

"Having a guaranteed, regular supply of free tennis balls has enabled us to give our patients balls to take home with them so that they can practice their exercises at home.

"It is terrific that something so small can have such huge benefits for our patients."



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