Interview with
Stephanie Comella
PD Active Brain Training


1. Why is brain training important for people with PD?

Our nervous system dictates every movement we do: taking in sensory information, processing it and telling the body what to do in response. This process often happens at very fast speeds that are unconscious to us. Working directly with our nervous system, through our eyes, skin and brain, is a much more efficient avenue for movement training due to its ability to control this processing pathway and influence the entire body at once (as opposed to one muscle at a time). For people with PD, this concept becomes even more important to capitalize on: instead of thinking about every individual aspect of a movement or gait pattern, we can stimulate our sensory systems and have a more reactionary, global effect on our movement.

2. How did you become interested in PD?

My father was diagnosed with PD in 2007 but didn’t really present with severe symptoms until, ironically, I was going through my Pilates teacher training. I met with him weekly while working towards completing my student teaching hours, and found that Pilates was having a profound impact on maintaining his movement and coordination. To this day, I believe that Pilates entered his life at the perfect time to teach him how to move his body, which he has used ever since. I want other people with PD to have this same experience so they can carry with them the fundamental understanding of how to maintain movement and physical skills.

3. How can people practice brain training when they’re not live in class?

Brain training can be as simple and fun as playing a game! Grab a ball and play catch with your grandkids; play “Eye spy with my little eye”; draw your name with your eyes; pretend to play piano with your toes… the list goes on. When you understand the basic idea of integrating your senses (eyes, feet, hands) with movement, everything you do can be training for your brain.

4. Please tell us about your experience working with people with PD?

Working with people with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions has made me a more creative, attentive and patient teacher. Through my students, I’ve been pushed to discover new approaches to nervous system healing and motor learning after neurological injury. Because no two neurological injuries are ever the same, I am constantly learning and evolving with my students.