Rowing across the Indian Ocean to Raise Awareness for Parkinson’s Disease

Man in Row Boat

Robin Buttery has Early onset Parkinson’s and is a Member of a Crew Rowing across the Indian Ocean

A 4-man British crew, including Robin Buttery who contracted early onset Parkinson’s disease when he was only 44 years old, are rowing non-stop in a 29 foot long row boat across the Indian Ocean. Setting out from Exmouth in Western Australia, their final destination will be Port Louis on the island nation of Mauritius. Their goal is not only to make a world speed record for being the fastest 4-man crew to sail across the Indian Ocean, but mainly they want to raise awareness and charitable donations for Parkinson’s disease and to contribute to scientific research on the benefits of endurance physical exercise and Parkinson’s Disease. Taking only two-hour breaks they are taking turns rowing for two-hour shifts, non-stop for the 3600 nautical miles trip. They hope to complete their travels in 65 days that will maybe land them the world record. The crew will also be live-streaming their journey on YouTube.

Outside of Robin Buttery, the other crew members are all professional prize-winning sportsmen, who have taken part in rowing across the ocean, yachting, cycling and mountain climbing. The skipper, Billy Taylor has already sailed twice across the Indian Ocean. Besides raising awareness and donations for Parkinson’s disease, Buttery hopes to be an inspiration to all of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Gathering Research on Endurance Physical Activity and Parkinson’s Disease

While endurance physical exercise has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, there is not enough sufficient research confirming the benefits and safety of it so that it can be added to the treatment regime for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers will be watching Robin Buttery very closely to discover just how endurance physical exercise can affect someone with early onset Parkinson’s.

On board are video cameras operating around the clock and this footage will be analyzed by researchers to see how endurance physical exercise affects Parkinson’s disease by comparing Buttery with the other men who do not have Parkinson’s disease. Researchers will attempt to see if endurance physical exercise is better than regular exercise for those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. The video footage can be enlarged to see if there are effects on the heart and lungs. A dietitian will also see what effects nutrition has on endurance exercising and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers hope to gather information that will lead to better treatments and neuro-rehabilitation programs for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease. The Movement Science Group at Oxford Brookes will closely monitor Robin’s motor skills before, during and after the trip to glean information on how his metabolic, cardiovascular and neuro-muscular system cope and adapt to prolonged endurance activity and stress.

Exhaustion and Sleep Deprivation

The boat has a small cabin and porthole. They will not be getting enough sleep and researchers will have to take this into account when drawing conclusions.

Dangers in Crossing the Indian Ocean

They will basically be on their own if they run into dangers like tankers, whales, but the main enemy may be the weather, as they will mainly be exposed to the elements. However, they will be getting updates from the UK regarding the weather.

Who gets Parkinson’s Disease

While Robin contracted early onset Parkinson’s disease, probably due to genetic factors, when he was only 44, most people get it from aging and the majority of those suffering from Parkinson’s are seniors over the age of 65. The disease is so far not curable and it gets progressively worse over time.

Assisted Living and Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care

Eventually, the afflicted senior with Parkinson’s will need assisted living or long-term skilled nursing care.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY

If you or your loved one are in need of skilled nursing care in the Syracuse area, then check out the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. Besides having an excellent medical staff and therapists, they also offer all kinds of unique and enjoyable recreational activities.


It is to be hoped that the crew will successfully achieve their mission and that the researchers will gather information that can help lead to improving treatments for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease.


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