April 09, 2021
On April 11, the world recognizes World Parkinson's Day. Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. It is one of the most common neurological conditions.
New York-based Ping Pong Parkinson works to halt the progression of the disease by using Ping Pong, or Table Tennis, as a form of physical therapy. The nonprofit's model is based on the concept of neuroplasticity - the brain's capacity to make new neurons and connections through challenging physical exercise. Although medication remains the focus in the treatment of Parkinson's, there is compelling evidence for the need of regular exercise and Ping Pong improving motor skills.
For last Tuesday's International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the organization highlighted the positive impacts as experienced by its community of players in its short film "Humanity Above Winning."
The short video highlights the power of sport to transform individual lives through the story of Sunil Raghavan, a 39-year-old Ping Pong player who also has Parkinson’s. It shows how Ping Pong transformed his life, giving him a renewed sense of self and being a source of strength for him and his son.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ping Pong Parkinson adapted and embraced virtual reality technology as part of a new rehabilitation program. They will be hosting the inaugural Parkinsons VR Championships on World Parkinson's Day.
“Coronavirus changed our lives for better and for worse. I'm dedicated to improving a virtual reality platform that will help, going beyond social distancing and extending friendships all over the globe,” said Nenad Bach, founder of Ping Pong Parkinson.
Through a partnership with ELEVEN Table Tennis, the VR tournament reflects how virtual reality is changing the healthcare for 10 million people around the world who live with Parkinson’s.
More than 260,000 users play table tennis in the comfort of their homes using ELEVEN's virtual reality technology. This is a critical component of sport development, as the world' continues to become more digitally connected. The evolution of esports has seen over 3,500 tournaments played globally since the first video game in 1972.
"I'm honoured and intrigued to be part of this progressive idea that has the potential of helping millions of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease," said Zoran Primorac, Olympian and Ping Pong Parkinson advisor.