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How Can Physical Therapy Help Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinsons Disease And Its Accompanying Symptoms:

Physical Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons Disease is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and the ability to coordinate movement in the body. Since Parkinsons Disease affects many areas of the brain, symptoms can vary in individuals and progression can be either mild, moderate, or aggressive. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are essential for people with Parkinsons Disease.

Parkinsons Disease typically affects ones ability to walk, with slower movements and difficulty with starting or stopping walking. In addition, movements tend to become slower, and it is common for tremors to develop in the hands. Muscles can become quite rigid, leading to loss of motion and poor posture. A dangerous symptom is called retropulsion, where the tendency of an individual is to fall backward with little to no ability to protect oneself.

Speech can also be affected with Parkinsons Disease, becoming slurred and slow, due to poor activation of the mouth, tongue, and throat muscles. In addition, eating and drinking can become challenging due to difficulty with swallowing.

When To Find An Occupational Therapist

Many people with Parkinsons will benefit from occupational therapy. Request a referral for occupational therapy from your neurologist or movement disorder specialist. Ask them if they can recommend an occupational therapist with knowledge and experience in the management of PD. You can also contact your state OT association, a hospital outpatient rehabilitation, a local rehabilitation facility or home care agency to find an OT.

Find more information on the American Occupational Therapy Association website at www.aota.org.

Finding Expert Pd Physical Therapy

It is important to find a physical therapist who has specialty training and experience working with PD. You may find experienced physical therapists working in hospital outpatient departments, home health agencies, nursing homes or within the community close to your home. Ask your neurologist for a referral at your next appointment.

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How Can Physical Therapy Help Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease is a neurological disorder that causes problems with movement and coordination. Physical therapy can offer significant benefits for people living with the condition.

Parkinsons disease is a progressive condition of the central nervous system due to low dopamine levels in the brain.

Symptoms may include slow movement, rigid muscles, freezing episodes, tremors, and unsteady balance.

Physical therapy improves a persons range of movement, prevents further injury or disability, and improves the quality of a persons life.

This article explores the benefits of PT for people with Parkinsons disease. It also provides tips for finding a physical therapist and explains when to contact a doctor.

According to the Parkinsons Outcomes Project, PT can improve the quality of life for people with Parkinsons disease.

Research from indicates that regular PT treatment and exercise can have positive, long lasting outcomes for those with the condition.

Parkinsons UK notes that PT can help people with Parkinsons disease by:

  • keeping joints and muscles flexible
  • building strength
  • improving mobility, movement, and bodily functions
  • maintaining daily independence
  • maintaining and improving effective breathing
  • helping to prevent falls
  • managing stress

Also, because PT encompasses self-management patient education, hands-on care, and exercise prescription, the Parkinsons Foundation notes that a physical therapist can:

Reach Out For Support


It can be challenging living with Parkinson’s disease, but you do not have to manage the symptoms alone. If you find yourself feeling discouraged or frustrated, share your feelings with others. Spend time with supportive friends and family members, or consider joining a support group. You might also speak with a counselor to address depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues you experience. By taking care of your mental and emotional health, you will be better positioned to reach your physical health goals.

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Do I Have A Speech Or Voice Problem

Many people with Parkinsons use these statements to describe speech-related issues. Choose the response that indicates how frequently you experience the below .

  • It is difficult for people to hear me0 1 2 3 4
  • People have difficulty understanding me in a noisy room0 1 2 3 4
  • My voice difficulties restrict personal and social life0 1 2 3 4
  • I feel left out of conversations because of my voice0 1 2 3 4
  • My voice problem causes me to lose income0 1 2 3 4
  • I feel as though I have to strain to produce voice0 1 2 3 4
  • The clarity of my voice is unpredictable0 1 2 3 4
  • My voice problem upsets me0 1 2 3 4
  • My voice problem makes me feel handicapped0 1 2 3 4
  • People ask, Whats wrong with your voice?0 1 2 3 4
  • To find your score, add up your answers. A score of 10 or higher indicates you might have a speech or voice problem that is affecting your quality of life and you should ask for a referral to a speech pathologist.

    How To Find A Speech Therapist

    Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any changes in your speech, voice or swallowing. Ask for a referral to a speech language pathologist to evaluate and address these symptoms. If you have not noticed changes in your speech, but a spouse, care partner or friend has, pay attention to their comments. The sooner you get a speech evaluation and start speech therapy, the better.

    Speech therapists work in many settings, including hospitals, outpatient rehabilitation centers and private practice offices. To locate one in your area:

  • Ask your neurologist
  • Contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at www.asha.org
  • Find a therapist certified in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment at www.lsvtglobal.com
  • Ideally, you should see a speech therapist face-to-face for a complete voice and speech evaluation and treatment. However, if a speech therapist is not available in your area, LSVT LOUD the most researched voice treatment for people with PD is virtually offered in select states. The speech therapist interacts with you in your home or office live through your computer screen.

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    Wellbeing Parkinsons Disease And Physical Therapy

    Quality of life is the overriding concern of Parkinsons disease and physical therapy. Though patients cannot reverse their symptoms, with the help of their therapist, they can remain independent and functional. By moving and staying active, they can make good days more productive and bad days less challenging.

    Sadly, no amount of physical therapy can reverse Parkinsons disease. Eventually, there will come a time when the patient cannot maintain their independence and will require someone to look after them full-time. Despite this, physical therapy still plays a useful role by reducing the burden of care.

    Therapists can help patients re-learn basic physical skills, such as rolling over or raising their arms. Simple movements can make the patient more of a partner, able to assist their caregiver with the activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, and dressing, improving outcomes for both caregiver and patient alike.

    Can Physical Therapist Intervention Help This Patient

    Parkinson Disease: Treatment by a Physical Therapist

    Mr Jennings, a 54-year-old financial planner currently in H& Y stage 2, had been diagnosed with PD 4 years earlier. His symptoms had begun 7 years earlier with weakness and tremor on his left side. He had not received physical therapist for PD. Medications and supplements included pramipexole, selegiline, amantadine, coenzyme Q10, a multivitamin, and fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids. He had no significant comorbid conditions. His goal was to engage in a therapeutic exercise program to prevent decline related to aging and PD. Mr Jennings did not report any falls but reported feeling stiff, moving slowly, and being concerned about balance and walking, particularly in crowded environments.

    The physical therapist evaluation included measures of function and an assessment of underlying impairments that could limit current or future abilities with balance and gait. Several of these measures, including the TUG, the FRT, and the 6-minute walk test, were reported in the Cochrane review. Additional measures of balance and gait included the Five-Times Sit-to-Stand Test and the Functional Gait Assessment . His score of 25 of 30 on the FGA indicated a mild fall risk . He was able to ascend and descend a full flight of stairs without the use of a railing, indicating good lower extremity strength. This finding was further confirmed by his ability to perform the FTSST in 10 seconds and without the use of hands.

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    Medicare And The Therapy Cap Removal

    Historically, Medicare has limited the amount of physical, occupational and speech therapy a beneficiary could receive each year. In some years, Congress created an exceptions process that allowed individuals to access therapy above the cap if the services were deemed medically necessary, but this process needed to be renewed by lawmakers every few years, creating uncertainty and the potential for coverage denials.

    Defining The Strength Of The Recommendations

    Judging the quality of evidence is only a steppingstone toward arriving at the strength of a CPG recommendation. The operational definitions for the quality of evidence are listed in Table 2, and rating of magnitude of benefits versus risk, harms, and cost is provided in Table 3. The strength of recommendation also considers the quality, quantity, and trade-off between the benefits and harms of a treatment, the magnitude of a treatments effect, and whether there are data on critical outcomes. Table 5 addresses how to link the assigned grade with the language of obligation of each recommendation.

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    Write Down Your Goals

    Before you meet with a physical therapist, write down all the goals you want to accomplish. Writing your goals can help you organize your thoughts and focus on what is most important to you. When listing your goals, consider the areas you are struggling with and would like to improve most. Your goals will provide direction for your treatment and help you stay motivated. You can adjust your goals or create new ones as needed.

    Maintaining General Fitness Muscle Force Aerobic Capacity And An Upright Posture

    7 Facts To Help You Understand Parkinsons Disease

    When a person is found to have postural deformities or malalignment , the therapist should assess whether the condition is due to muscular, joint, or skeletal factors. If it is restricted to soft tissue factors, then I recommend visual feedback coupled with carefully designed strengthening or stretching programs. My observations suggest that lying flat in a supine or prone position for at least 30 minutes every day is advisable in order to maintain muscle length. When the malalignment cannot be volitionally corrected, the provision of orthoses or special seating and bedding may be considered. These interventions await validation with controlled clinical trials.

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    The Basic Elements Of Exercising With Parkinsons

    There are four core elements of exercise that are important for people with PD:

  • Aerobic e.g. brisk walking, stationary cycling activities that get the heart pumping
  • Strengthening e.g. using weights or resistance bands to improve muscle strength
  • Balance e.g. tai chi, dance to help you be more steady on your feet
  • Stretching e.g. mat exercises, yoga to provide flexibility
  • Including all four of these elements in your exercise regimen is ideal .

    Aerobic activity or high-intensity exercise may be particularly important for Parkinsons and general health

    High-intensity exercise has been formally studied in PD with impressive results. The Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise Phase 2 enrolled 128 people with early PD, who were not yet on dopaminergic medication into three groups:

    • a high-intensity treadmill exercise group, in which people exercised at 80-85% of their maximum heart rate
    • a moderate-intensity treadmill exercise group, in which people exercised at 60-65% of their maximum heart rate
    • a wait-list control group

    After six months, the high-intensity group had essentially no change in their motor scores, whereas the control group had a three-point worsening of their motor scores.

    Currently, the SPARX3 trial is enrolling participants and underway. This trial is similar to SPARX2, but with a goal of studying many more participants.

    Forced exercise

    Occupational Therapy For Early Onset Parkinsons

    Occupational therapists are similar to physical therapists, but they focus on more specific goals related to functioning. In other words, occupational therapist help us function to the best of our ability. For people with early onset Parkinsons disease, routine tasks such as walking, running, standing up from a chair or moving into and out of bed can become difficult occupational therapists are trained to evaluate these kinds of difficulties and help the person and/or the environment adapt as needs and abilities change.


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    Evidence Supporting The Efficacy Of Physical Therapy For Gait Disorders

    A previous systematic review of therapies for PD57 has been published, and Kwakkel et al58 published a subsequent critical review of the literature on physical therapy for PD. The systematic review produced equivocal results, having been performed at a time when few controlled trials of physical therapy for PD had been published. The review by Kwakkel et al58 identified 23 randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of physical therapy on function in people with PD. Only 3 of these studies targeted gait disorders.10,59,60 An additional 6 studies measured gait- and mobility-related outcomes from programs directed toward improving posture and balance.25,55,6164 These studies were of moderate methodological quality and demonstrated some benefits of physical therapy for gait and mobility. The interventions tested and outcome measures used varied markedly, making between-study comparisons difficult. Interventions included cueing, mental rehearsal, exercises, and cycling. As suggested by Kwakkel et al,58 the quality of physical therapy research in PD has improved in the last decade, yet gaps in the evidence base for specific interventions remain.

    Physical Therapy Can Help

    How does Physical Therapy Exercises help in Parkinson’s Disease

    Parkinsons disease is associated with the inability to produce the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that transmits information between brain cells. The reduction of dopamine causes symptoms such as tremors , tightening of the muscles and slowing down of movements . These features can cause a great deal of disability, and can be effectively managed with physical therapy.

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    Have Back Pain 5 Reasons To Choose Pt

    If you areexperiencing pain, it may be difficult to know where to start to find relief. Itcan be tempting to look for a quick fix from medicationor injections, or to seek out a priceyMRI or x-rayto find answers. Medication can temporarily mask the pain but doesn’t treat the source, and expensive testing generally doesn’t contribute much to a persons recovery.

    Here are 5 reasonsto choose physical therapy as your first line of defense against back pain:

    • A prescription for movement.People often tend to rest when they have back pain or an injury, but studies show that properly designed activity has a positive impact on most types of back pain, while too much rest can lead to more pain. Controlled, consistent exercise can help strengthen key areas and encourage proper posture to relieve pain.
    • Collaborative care.No matter what you are battling when it comes to back pain, chances are your physical therapist has seen it before. Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis, a PT can recommend resources and collaborate with your physician or surgeon on the best treatment plan for your specific needs.
    • Pain is not just part of life.We are often surprised to hear how long patients have lived in pain before seeking treatment. Pain is not just a normal part of aging! While a bit of soreness here and there after activity may be normal, you dont have to accept a life of chronic pain.

    Get Your Parkinsons Plan Of Attack

    If youre looking for help in getting your daily Parkinsons exercise program off the ground, you can get your Parkinsons Plan of Attack Foundations Checklist here. Designed to help you wake up each day confident and excited to take control of your Parkinsons and live well, the checklist will remind you of the actions you can take each day to live with greater health, energy and joy.

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    When And Why To Find A Physical Therapist

    Physical therapists can be helpful at all stages of PD. Movement impairments in the initial stages of the disease are not always obvious. By choosing a physical therapist who specializes in neurological conditions, they can help find movement issues earlier and quicker. Talk to your doctor about getting a baseline physical therapy evaluation and then continue with routine re-evaluations.

    According to the Parkinsons Outcomes Project, increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow Parkinson’s symptom progression. Best practices include early referral to physical therapy and encouragement of exercise as part of treatment.

    A physical therapist is uniquely trained to design an exercise routine that targets specific motor impairments. Physical therapists also have an opportunity to provide frequent, direct feedback to help make you aware of how to exercise most effectively and safely.

    A physical therapist can provide:

    • Education and self-management advice.
    • Exercise routines that have been associated with improvements in mobility, quality of life and disease severity.
    • Answers to questions about the type, intensity, frequency or duration of exercise that is best for you.
    • Ways to maintain safety when exercising.
    • Moving around the house
  • Address fear of falling, have fallen or are worried about your safety.
  • What Is Occupational Therapy

    Believe In Big Movements Of LSVT BIG Physical Therapy For Parkinsons ...

    Occupational therapy can help people with Parkinson’s disease stay active in daily life. By improving your skills, showing you different ways to complete tasks, or introducing you to handy equipment, an occupational therapist can help you perform everyday activities with greater ease and satisfaction. An occupational therapist may also recommend making changes to your home or workplace to promote your independence.

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