“Parkinson disease is related to a loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine and other brain chemicals are normally in balance and are important for the control of body movements, thought processes, decision making, moods, and other behaviors.
The exact cause of PD is not yet known. Family history, aging, or exposure to certain environmental toxins may contribute to the onset of PD. It is a chronic degenerative disease, which means that it gets worse over time; however, people usually do not die from it.
The severity and symptoms of PD can vary widely. Some people have the disease for 20 to 30 years and experience a slower decline in mobility and thinking over a longer period of time. Others may experience difficulty with physical movements and thought processes within 5 to 10 years, as the disease progresses more rapidly.”
Since everyone diagnosed with this disease experiences it differently, it is important to get started on the right treatment plan for your specific needs. Fortunately, physical therapy can help with this.
Parkinson’s Disease and its accompanying symptoms
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and the ability to coordinate movement in the body. Since Parkinson’s 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 Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease typically affects one’s ability to walk, with slower movements (bradykinesia) 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 backwards with little to no ability to protect oneself.
Speech can also be affected with Parkinson’s 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.
Common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include slurred speech, irregular facial expressions, and severe tremors. Fortunately, physical therapy can help slow the progress of Parkinson’s Disease and provide relief for symptoms. Physical therapy helps to improve flexibility and strength by addressing several issues that Parkinson’s disease may cause, including abnormal gait, freezing, and dystonia. Symptoms may also include difficulty with writing, becoming illegible or very small.
How can physical therapy help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
As stated by the Johns Hopkins Medicinewebsite, “A professional can guide you through the right moves to increase mobility, strength and balance, and help you remain independent.”
They state several ways in which this can be done, including, but not limited to:
Strength and flexibility
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease currently, a tremendous amount can be done to improve one’s function and maintain mobility. In coordination with your physician, rehabilitation focuses on improving movement, safety, independence with activities, transfers, cognitive aptitude, speech, and swallowing.
Our dedicated physical therapists will provide you with the best care for your needs. For Parkinson’s Disease, it is recommended that you seek the help of both physical therapists and occupational therapists.
Our physical therapists will focus on improving your range of motion, strength, stamina, safety with transfers from low surfaces, posture, and movement, so you can reclaim some independence in your life. They will also focus on movements of the upper extremities, cognitive improvements, coordination with dressing and caring for oneself, and any adaptations that can be made so you can live as independently as possible.
If you are having trouble with speech and swallowing, it is likely that you will also have to seek help from a speech therapist. Speech therapists focus on improving speech, safety with eating and drinking, cognitive abilities, and writing.
It is important to note that our rehabilitation professionals work together as a team to help you reach your goals. Our main focus is to help you maintain and improve all levels of physical function, so you can reclaim at least some parts of your independence.
Ready to get started?
If you have been living with Parkinson’s Disease, don’t hesitate to contact our clinic today. At our clinic, our physical therapists are dedicated to helping you regain your optimum levels of functionso you can live your life as independently as possible.