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QB pickleball instructor shares data of pilot project involving people with Parkinson’s disease

Therapeutic benefits of the sport available for people of all ages
Pickleball provides the mechanism to have fun and increased social contact. (Michael Briones photo)

Pickleball instructor Ernie Pallot wants to promote the fitness and therapeutic value of the sport.

The Qualicum Beach resident was inspired by the success of the recent pilot project he and members of the OPC Oceanside Pickleball Club conducted involving a group of people with Parkinson’s disease.

“This sport provides life-extending exercise and temporary relief from tremors and other symptoms of this debilitating disease,” said Pallot. “It also provides the mechanism to have fun and increased social contact. The success of this program has demonstrated the versatility of pickleball. It is not only recreation, it is physiotherapy.”

The next goal for Pallot is to share the results of the pilot project to Pickleball BC and Pickleball Canada. He hopes the information and data logged and collected during the pilot program can help other pickleball clubs to initiate similar initiatives in their communities.

“Our team has compiled lesson plans and information on how to go about it,” said Pallot. “This information will gladly be shared to other interested organizations.”

Pickleball is a sport that is easier to learn and play said Pallot and has advantages over other sports like tennis, squash, ping pong, racquetball and badminton.

READ MORE: Pickleball stakeholders disappointed lack of designated courts in PQB region

“It can be played indoors and in our climate, outdoors year round, even on wet courts,” said Pallot. “Pickleball is easy to learn. I have taught tennis players how to play pickleball in half an hour.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo pickleball courses, Pallot said, have people playing the game with only six hours of instruction.

“These courses stress the ‘FUNdamentals’ of the game,” said Pallot. “In other words, having fun is a major objective of the program. Equipment is affordable. All you need is a paddle, balls, and a pair of athletic shoes. Age is not a limiting factor. Kids and seniors are all capable of playing pickleball.”

Pallot believes the therapeutic value of pickleball is not limited to Parkinson’s.

“Diabetics benefit from exercise to control the advancement of that disease,” said Pallot. “Programs are already being offered to children with developmental problems. I hope to investigate potential benefits for people addicted to drugs and alcohol.”

Pallot pointed out that pickleball benefits healthy people as well.

“Given the state of our health care system, responsible individuals need to adopt a healthy life style,” said Pallot. “Physical and mental fitness is vitally important and pickleball contributes to both. The fitness and therapeutic benefits of pickleball are real. Now all we need are pickleball courts to take advantage of them.”

— NEWS Staff

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