With the World Parkinson’s Championships starting on Wednesday, this is a great time to shine a spotlight on how table tennis can help people living with the condition.
While there are no English competitors at the Worlds this year, there are many people with Parkinson’s who enjoy sessions at clubs and venues up and down the country.
Table Tennis England is partnering with Parkinson’s UK to support clubs and groups to welcome people living with the condition into the sport.
One such session is Coventry Bat & Chat which was started by Stephen Ashby in January 2022 to provide an opportunity for over-50s to socialise and exercise after lockdowns.
Among those who take part is Barbara, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2016 and developed Parkinson’s dementia in 2020. She attends sessions with her husband Steve.
Barbara’s daughter Sally Carey said: “Exercise is particularly recommended for people with Parkinson’s due to potential issues of tremor, poor balance, stiffness, slow movement amongst other things.
“Unlike other bat/racquet sports, table tennis is ‘low impact’ and need only be of limited movement if required. In my mum’s case, it appears that some latent hand-eye coordination from her netball has been transferred to table tennis without any guidance, since the dementia aspect means she is unable to receive any instruction apart from where to stand at the beginning of a rally.
“The dementia also means she normally takes a few seconds to respond to external things and has poor concentration, both of which seem to ‘disappear’ whilst she’s playing. She also seems to enjoy the brief interaction with the other Bat and Chat players.”
As part of Table Tennis England’s work with Parkinson’s UK, we are helping clubs and other venues be more inclusive for people with Parkinson’s and helping club coaches and volunteers feel confident to support this inclusion.
For more about this, click here or watch our webinar below.