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Parkinsonism and Parkinson's Disease

Parkinsonism and Parkinson's Disease affects millions of people. 

  • Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson's disease.
  • As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
  • An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease.
  • Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50.
  • Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson's than women.

What To Do...

Our therapists utilize tools and techniques which have demonstrated a slowing of progression of the disease and impairments and difficulties that are associated with it.  Some studies even suggest that a neuroprotective effect in the areas damaged by Parkinson’s may be realized with the appropriate exercise prescription.  Again we utilize a variety of innovative methods to extend the length of service needed to effectively accomplish these goals.

"Evidence suggests that people with PD benefit from exercise. Because people with PD may have a wide variety of signs and symptoms and differing rates of disease progression, exercise and rehabilitation programs must be tailored to the individual. People with PD need to develop long-term exercise habits—and be committed to participating in their intervention programs—to sustain the benefits of the supervised intervention provided by physical therapists." (PTNow.org)

How Can a Physical Therapist Help? 
From MoveForwardPT.org

Because PD affects each person differently, your physical therapist will partner with you to manage your specific situation — now and as your condition changes. You are not alone!

Your treatment plan will be developed after an extensive evaluation by your physical therapist. The examination will include many questions about how your PD affects your life. Tests will be conducted to examine your posture, strength, flexibility, walking, balance, and coordination.

Your physical therapist will help you stay as active and as independent as possible. You will be taught special exercises and techniques to combat the symptoms of PD. Depending on the nature and severity of your condition, your treatment program may focus on treatment to help you:

  • Improve your fitness level, strength, and flexibility
  • Develop more effective strategies to get in and out of bed, chairs, and cars
  • Turn over in bed more easily
  • Stand and turn to change directions more efficiently
  • Improve the smoothness and coordination of your walking
  • Improve your ability to perform hand movements
  • Decrease your risk of falling
  • Climb and descend stairs and curbs
  • Do more than 1 task at a time more efficiently
  • Participate in activities that are important to you

Some of the medications that are used to manage PD symptoms may have an immediate effect. For example, movement is typically much easier shortly after you begin taking certain PD medications. Your physical therapist will know how to time treatments, exercise, and activity based on both the schedule and the effects of your medications to get the best results.

Parkinson disease can make daily activities seem frustrating and time-consuming. Your physical therapist will become a partner with you and your family to help you combat and manage the symptoms of PD. As your condition changes, your treatment program will be adjusted to help you be as independent and as active as possible.

Some people with PD benefit from using a cane, a walker with wheels, or a walker with a laser beam. Your physical therapist can work with you to determine if any of these devices may be helpful to you. If you need physical assistance to help you with moving in bed or getting out of a chair, your physical therapist can team with you and your family to teach strategies to make moving easier and help prevent injury. In addition, your physical therapist can make suggestions on changes to your home environment to optimize safe and efficient daily function at home.

For more information on Parkinsonism and Parkinson's disease, visit MoveForwardPT and the Parkinson's Disease Foundation