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UNDERSTANDING GRIEF AND PARKINSON’S How to incorporate the Brief Grief Questionnaire (BGQ) in assessment and training program development for clients diagnosed with the disease By Adrienne Ione


vidence of mind-body connections suggest vast malleability vis-àvis modifiable lifestyle factors. Among people affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD), more inclusive clinical interventions need to be adopted, such that non-motor complications are flipped on its head. An area even less studied is the effects of grief. Due to the compounding nature of a global crisis (COVID-19), clinical interventions for treatments of grief as a way of moderating dementia symptoms in PD are needed now more than ever. How are the environment, COVID-19, Parkinson’s and grief all intricately connected? The environment shapes our brain. Grief reshapes our brain. COVID-19 is reshaping our environment. According to principal study author Kühn, “brain plasticity supports the assumption that the environment can shape brain structure and function.” Most notably is the effect of the environment on the amygdala. With a healthy functioning amygdala, part of the limbic system and the specific region


responsible for emotion regulation, grievers are able to navigate, find and assign meaning in loss episodes. For people with PD, there is an estimated 20% atrophy of their amygdala. How might one’s experience with PD shift positively if fitness and health practitioners allow space for breaching current and residual grief episodes? Perhaps a starting point could be an inclusion of the Brief Grief Questionnaire (BGQ) in the intake assessment interview. Rather than a standalone instrument, to be completed by the participate prior to meeting, the 5-item screening tool should be delivered in an interview format. Often, grief is underreported, socially and culturally unrecognized and thus untreated. Grief is the antithesis of mind-body homeostasis. Although the BGQ has been developed for measuring and screening for complicated grief, the instrument holds strong reliability and discriminant validity. Complicated grief occurs when the mourning process is interrupted and frozen in the mind-body matrix. Future crisis, as COVID-19 is for some, can possibly unfreeze previous grief episodes and


catapult one into the middle of a large body of frigid waters, with no life saving measures in sight. The BGQ can serve as a life preserver. Participants are prompted to assign a value of “not at all, “somewhat”, or “a lot” to each question. One such question asks: How much are you having images or thoughts of _____ when he/she/they died or other thoughts about the death that bother you? Self-reported levels of anxiety are much higher among people diagnosed with PD as compared with their non-PD counterparts, when matched for age, gender, race and socio-economic status. Could it be that anxiety associated with loss and separation in the human need to fulfil attachments, then results in systemic overload and is diagnosed as dementia in PD? The concept of “possible selves” can be used as a template for informing the grieving of the possible selves that one imagined and may never live once diagnosed. Intake assessments that account for previous life losses, as well as the potential ex-

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Personal Fitness Professional Looking Ahead to 2021  

Personal Fitness Professional Looking Ahead to 2021

Personal Fitness Professional Looking Ahead to 2021  

Personal Fitness Professional Looking Ahead to 2021