Warwick occupational therapist inspired by dad to help people with Parkinson's keep active

An occupational therapist from Warwick has been spurred on to play an active part in the lives of people with Parkinson's disease after her dad was diagnosed with the condition.

Emma Bracher with her dad Richard Sant.
Emma Bracher with her dad Richard Sant.
Emma Bracher with her dad Richard Sant.

Emma Bracher, who lives and works from her home in Hatton Park, has been working with people with Parkinson’s for more than 10 years.

After her dad, Richard Sant, who lives near Solihull, was diagnosed with the condition three years ago, Emma decided that she wanted to help people by playing an active role in the management on their condition.

She said: “I have always enjoyed working with people with Parkinson’s, but it was my dad’s diagnosis that spurred me on to do something like this and it encouraged me to be proactive in trying to fill the gaps in service provision and educate people on what they can be doing to play more of an active role in their disease management.”

Following her training last year, Emma now operates weekly group exercise classes in Kenilworth, Warwick and Solihull and an eight-week therapy programme called ‘Bigger and Better’, which specialise in being high intensity and high effort in a bit to keep people diagnosed active.

Emma said: “There is a lot of research emerging about ‘exercise as medicine’ and the ability to slow down the progression of the disease with the right type and intensity of exercise.

“Also, on the importance of starting as early as possible to be able to experience the maximum benefits.

“There is a real drive to keep people active and to try and slow down progression.

“Some people with Parkinson’s lose their confidence; they have balance problems or tremors and people can be embarrassed about it.

“A lot of people can be nervous about going to a normal gym as they are worrying about keeping up. We are providing a place where people can meet like-minded people where they are not going to be embarrassed.

“We are teaching them to move differently and more normal but it is not just about exercise it also about getting them to think about how they move and how to improve their day-to-day life.”

Currently the class in Kenilworth is centred around boxing and the class in Warwick is currently focused around circuit and Emma’s dad also attends one of her regular classes.

She said: “My biggest drive throughout is that I wanted to get my dad moving and exercising. I also wanted to provide an active support group for people who are still very active. My dad comes to all the classes and really enjoys it.”