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Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder which affects the brain and spinal cord. It gets worse over time due to the death of cells producing a chemical called dopamine in the brain. The lack of dopamine affects the transmission of nerve signals causing a variety of problems with thinking and moving around. Physiotherapy can help an individual with Parkinson’s disease and their family learn how to minimise symptoms and maintain independence and optimum quality of life.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include rigidity, stiffness, tremor and slowness of movement. Often, individuals present with a flexed posture, postural instability and a shuffling walking pattern. Family may notice a mask-like facial expression and a shaking of the arms and legs. These problems can result in a difficulty to carry out normal activities of daily living and to walk around the home safely. Secondary problems that may arise as a result of Parkinson’s disease include changes to sensation, voice, behaviour, thinking and sleeping.

Mobilisation and queing techniques to overcome parkinson freezing symptomsAbove: Mobilisation and queing techniques to overcome parkinson freezing symptoms

Causes of Parkinson’s disease

It is not known exactly why cells in the brain stop producing the chemical dopamine but it is thought that a small number of cases can be attributed to genetic causes. The lack of dopamine in the brain affects the sending of the nerve impulses causing motor and cognitive problems.

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed based on the symptoms and a neurological examination. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans usually appear normal but may be necessary to rule out other causes of the symptoms.

Treatment of Parkinson’s disease

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, the symptoms and difficulties that individuals with Parkinson’s face can be effectively managed with medication and rehabilitation delivered by a multi-disciplinary team.

Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s disease

The focus of physiotherapy for the individual with Parkinson’s disease is to improve the patient’s quality of life. Following a detailed physiotherapy assessment, a treatment plan may include: Individuals with Parkinson’s disease typically adopt a stooped, shuffling walking pattern. They may have difficulty passing through doorways, over thresholds or climbing the stairs. Our specialist physiotherapists will assess the individuals walking pattern, offer helpful advice and suggest aids and equipment that will help to improve the safety and efficiency of the walking pattern. In turn, this will help increase confidence and reduce the risk of falls in the home environment. Your physiotherapist will provide a detailed exercise program that targets specific muscle groups to improve function, co-ordination and balance. Sometimes it is helpful if a family member or friend is present when the individual is taught these exercises so that they can provide encouragement and motivation to continue with them at home.

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may have difficulty carrying out personal care and domestic activities due to shaking hands or a tremor. Your experienced physiotherapist can assess problematic tasks such as getting washed and dressed or cooking a simple meal and provide aids and appliances which will help. It may be useful to have an assessment from an occupational therapist if you require major adaptation to your home such as a through floor lift or stair lift.

There are many advantages of having regular physiotherapy treatment with The benefits of physiotherapy for the individual with Parkinson’s disease are:
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Improved walking pattern with/without walking aid
  • Increased mobility
  • Increase independence with functional activity
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved postural stability
  • Learn exercises to do at home with family/carers
Your physiotherapist will work with you to achieve small short term goals leading up to a larger long-term goal. For example, it might be appropriate to practice using the front door step with the view of being able to manage a full flight of stairs in a month’s time. The goals and aims of physiotherapy are dependent on the individual’s problems and ambitions. Your physiotherapist will discuss this with you and together you will set specific, realistic goals that can be achieved within a set time frame.

Ankle orthotic used by Physiotherapist to prevent foot drop during mobilisationAbove: Ankle orthotic used by Physiotherapist to prevent foot drop during mobilisation

Why for Parkinson’s disease

At, we understand that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as a tremor and shuffling walking pattern can significantly impact on your quality of life. Our specialist physiotherapists are able to provide expert treatment to improve your mobility, balance and ability to be as active as possible.
  • No waiting lists
  • Treatment at any stage of Parkinson’s disease
  • Treatment at home, in clinic or in care home
  • Caring, experienced physiotherapists
  • Access to hydrotherapy
  • Access to gym equipment
  • Provision of home exercise program
  • Flexible appointment times
Professional and thorough physiotherapy sessions can be help in the individual’s home, care home or in one of our clinics. To talk to a specialist physiotherapist about therapy for Parkinson’s disease or book an appointment, please contact us now on 0330 088 7800. Alternatively, book an appointment with us online today!

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