How can physiotherapy help Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes problems with movement and coordination. Physiotherapy can provide significant benefits to people living with the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition of the central nervous system caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain.

Symptoms May include slow movements, rigid muscles, freezing episodes, tremors and unsteady balance.

Physiotherapy (PT) improves a person’s range of motion, prevents further injury or disability, and improves a person’s quality of life.

This article explores the benefits of physiotherapy for people with Parkinson’s disease. It also provides advice on finding a physiotherapist and when to contact a doctor.

According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, physiotherapy can improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Research of 2021 and 2022 indicates that regular physiotherapy treatment and exercise can have positive and lasting results for people with the disease.

Parkinson’s UK notes that physiotherapy can help people with Parkinson’s disease by:

  • keep joints and muscles flexible
  • building strength
  • reduce stiffness and sluggishness
  • stimulate circulation
  • manage pain
  • improve mobility, movement and bodily functions
  • maintain independence on a daily basis
  • maintain and improve efficient breathing
  • help prevent falls
  • To manage stress
  • boost mood

A physical therapist will work directly with a person to create routines and exercises to help them regain or prevent loss of movement. The symptoms and progression of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person, so a physical therapist will develop a treatment plan for each individual.

Additionally, because physical therapy encompasses patient self-management education, hands-on care, and exercise prescription, the Parkinson’s Foundation notes that a physical therapist can:

  • give advice on self-management
  • suggest exercise routines to improve movement, balance and posture
  • answer questions about the type, frequency and duration of exercise to meet a person’s needs
  • advise on how to maintain safety during exercise
  • help with daily physical activities, such as walking, moving around the house, getting on and off the bus, car, or elevator
  • address any concerns or complications interfering with activities of daily living
  • recommend and assist in the use of walking devices and adapted equipment

Learn more about PT.

The Parkinson Foundation recommends finding a physical therapist with training and experience working with people with Parkinson’s disease.

A person can find a physiotherapist to help them manage Parkinson’s disease by:

  • Ask their neurologist to refer you: Neurologists have lists of physical therapists and can recommend a suitable one to treat a person’s condition.
  • Contact the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA): APTA is the governing body for physical therapists in the United States. A person can access a licensed physical therapist by searching in APTA’s online search engine. APTA also has a directory of board-certified physical therapists in various medical specialties.
  • Call the Parkinson Foundation Helpline: A person can email [email protected] or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).
  • Search the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Global Directory: People can find an LSVT-certified physical therapist at or call 1-888-438-5788.
  • Call the physical therapy department of the nearest university: Physical therapy departments at academic institutions have a rich list of physical therapist resources. A person can contact a nearest college or university for more information.
  • Contact your insurer: Insurance companies have lists of PT locations participating in specific health plans and can be a helpful resource. A person can seek out a physiotherapist through their insurance provider.

After finding a physiotherapist, the next step is to contact them and make an appointment for an initial assessment. This can take place in an outpatient clinic, hospital, private practice, or at home if a person cannot travel due to illness or injury.

The number of physiotherapy sessions a person needs can vary. Depending on the establishment and individual needs, sessions generally last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

During the first few sessions, a physical therapist will assess a person’s needs and develop a personalized exercise plan. A therapist will give a person exercises to do at home and schedule regular physical therapy sessions if needed.

The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) recommends that a person try to exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. They can break this down into five 30-minute sessions, ten 15-minute sessions, or three bursts of 10 minutes each.

The EPDA describes the LSVT Big program, which consists of 16 sessions over a month, or 4 one-hour sessions per week. This intensive treatment aims to improve fine and gross motor skills, making daily tasks easier for people with Parkinson’s disease.

A person can ask a physiotherapist about the length and frequency of their physiotherapy sessions.

According to the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, in addition to performing physical therapy treatments and procedures, a licensed physical therapist can:

  • give a clinical diagnosis and prognosis
  • determine the results of a clinical intervention
  • perform a physical assessment of a person’s movement and flexibility
  • set short and long term goals
  • give self-management recommendations to manage conditions in multiple specialties
  • refer a person to other health professionals

According to the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), while physical therapy focuses on improving a person’s movement, occupational therapy can equip a person with the skills needed to perform daily activities such as cooking, walking, and swallowing. food.

For a person with Parkinson’s disease, an occupational therapist can:

  • recommend home modifications
  • recommend workplace changes
  • teach cooking and dietary adaptations
  • help with dressing and grooming
  • offer tips for navigating daily activities

Learn more about occupational therapy.

People should attend regular examinations and preventive screenings for Parkinson’s disease to help doctors identify possible signs and symptoms early. Early diagnosis can lead to earlier treatment, which can improve a person’s quality of life.

People should talk to a doctor if they experience any of the following early symptoms:

Also, if a person is undergoing physical therapy or other forms of treatment for Parkinson’s disease, they should see a doctor to evaluate their treatment plan.

Learn more about early signs of Parkinson’s disease.

The Sepsis Alliance explains that although Parkinson’s disease is not fatal, complications, such as falls and infections, can occur and become fatal.

A physical therapist will teach a person simple home exercises during physical therapy sessions. A person may need to practice these exercises regularly to get the best results.

According to a 2018 review, engaging in regular physical activity, which includes learning new movements, can maintain or increase dopamine levels in the brain. This can help treat or prevent disease progression.

Moreover, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans note that engaging in regular physical activity may improve cognition in people with Parkinson’s disease.

PT can be very beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

By following the recommendations of a licensed physical therapist, a person may notice improvements in movement, balance, and other bodily functions. It can also help them live as independently as possible.

A physical therapist will assess an individual’s needs and create a personalized plan to achieve their physical therapy goals.

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