How I Dealt with Parkinson’s Disease

An inspirational interview with Phil Kroeker by Joan Perkins

The Rocky Mountain Whittler (Jan-Feb 2010)

Phil Kroeker’s first time at our JTPSG was at our November, 2009 meeting.

We had breakout sessions, and he shared information about the Theracycle which he attributes to delaying the progression of Parkinson’s disease for him. I (Joan Perkins, Newsletter Editor) asked Phil if I could interview him in order to share more information in our newsletter that might be helpful to others.

JP: When did you first realize that your motor functioning and balance were changing?

PK: After I retired from the Army, I started my own construction company; and I was building decks, finishing basements, remodeling etc. About a year and a half ago, I noticed it was harder to lift things. I do mountain biking, and I was in a spinning class as well. It was more difficult to do what I had been doing and my instructor in the spinning class noticed it also. In January 2009, I went to a neurologist who listened to my symptoms and did some testing. He told me to come back in May. When I went back, he checked me again and asked me to try medication for Parkinson’s disease. When I went back to see the neurologist in a month, he confirmed the diagnosis because the medication was helping.

JP: How did you deal with the diagnosis?

PK: At first I was relieved because I thought maybe it was a brain tumor or ALS . Then it took me a while to accept the diagnosis. One morning my wife, Karla, was watching Good Morning America and there was a special about Parkinson’s disease telling about Dr. Alberts at the Cleveland Clinic and good results with forced exercise using a tandem bike.

(You can access this at: )

After doing considerable research on exercise bikes, I decided on the Theracycle which has a very quiet motor and moves the pedals with you to help you get the exercise you need. I ordered one, and then I decided to become a sales representative for Theracycle.

JP: Did you think about any other type of treatment to help you deal with Parkinson’s disease?

PK: I kept thinking I had to deal with PD on three different levels, the mental and spiritual, nutrition, and exercise. My Christian faith helped me find peace with the diagnosis. For part of my wellness program, I use lots of Shaklee food supplements. To support my exercise goals, I decided I needed to find a physical therapist. In the process, I found Marc Phillips. I took the study and research to him about Theracycle, and I told him I would buy it and would like to store it at Falcon Physical therapy so he could try it with other people to see if it could help them. If he could support me in this program as well as giving me physical therapy, then I wanted him to become my physical therapist.

JP: When did the Theracycle arrive?

PK: It came the beginning of October. I had told Karla, that if I didn’t do something soon, I would be in a wheelchair soon! I could feel myself declining.

JP: How did you find out about the JTPSG?

PK: The son of the owner of Theracycle suggested I should connect with a Parkinson’s Support Group, and he had looked up information about support groups in our area and gave me the website.

JP: How long did you exercise on the Theracycle before you could tell it was helping you?

PK: It took about four weeks. There were other good side effects as well. My blood pressure was 20 points lower after six weeks, and my working pulse was lower as well. I’ve had a shoulder that has bothered me for twelve years, and now that’s better, too. I’m also sleeping better.

JP: How often and how long do you work out on the Theracycle?

PK: I have physical therapy for about 45 minutes three times a week, and then I work out on the Theracycle for about an hour. I do a ten minute warm up, then forty minutes at 15 MPH or 90 revolutions per minute and then a ten minute cool down. Many people have to start doing it for just ten to fifteen minutes at a time and then gradually increase their time and speed.

JP: Were there any negative results from working out on the Theracycle?

PK: I remember being a little sore and stiff at first, but that soon went away. One time I was away for several days, and I couldn’t work out on the Theracycle. It was a real setback, and I realized how important it is to work out on a regular basis.

JP: Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?

PK: Overall, I just feel better, I have a more positive outlook, and I have more energy. I want others with Parkinson’s disease to experience the benefits that I have discovered with the Theracycle. Having PD is a little like dancing with a bear. You don’t like dancing with a bear, but you can’t let go. I want to dance with vigor and grace, and enjoy the dance!

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