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Results May vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as typical. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Below are merely personal stories and do not guarantee success.

Physical Rehabilitation for Parkinson’s Disease

May 2nd, 2016

Parkinsons

Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease whose symptoms include: tremors, slowed movement, restricted range of motion, balance issues, and more.  While there are a few hypotheses that seek to find the cause of Parkinson’s, the best research to date has shown it to be a combination of both environmental exposure to toxins combined with genetic factors.  Although Parkinson’s is something that is hard to predict, there are steps that can be taken to slow this disease and continue to live a high quality of life for years and years to come.  Since initial symptoms of the disease varies greatly from individual to individual, treatment also differs considerably.  A physical therapist will assess the medical documentation provided by the healthcare professional as well as other health and lifestyle questions to find the most effective plan for the client’s needs.  

One form of therapy that is consistent regardless of the individual is aerobic exercise.  The exercise is typically focused on what is termed “learning-based” exercises, which is intended to protect the body from further neurological damage.  These exercises will challenge a variety of muscles in the body while at the same time engaging the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, etc.).  One of the intentions of this type of exercise is to stave off the balance issues associated with Parkinson’s, as many of the exercises seek to improve posture, core strength, and overall health.  

The exercises will be challenging and may even seem a bit daunting to some clients at first, but the benefits are well worth it.  The therapist will seek to challenge the client in a variety of ways, doing a variety of different exercises.  Some of the types of exercises the client might do on their own to help themselves are:

  • Dancing
  • Step classes
  • Sports
  • Yoga
  • Various outdoor activities

The therapist may also encourage the client to do some exercises outside of therapy, such as walking, swimming, or simply finding ways to include more physical activity throughout one’s day.  While the activity can seem frustrating to an individual as they become more and more challenging, pushing through that difficulty is what helps to fight the effects of Parkinson’s.  

While strength training can be advantageous for a person dealing with Parkinson’s disease, this is something that will most likely be done (at least initially) under direct supervision of the therapist.  The intention of strength training is to maintain muscle mass and strength.  In addition, strengthening specific muscles can also improve posture and in turn, balance.  

Another important element of therapy is stretching.  Stretching helps maintain flexibility, improves blood flow through the muscles, and is a great way for the client to fight Parkinson’s.  The therapist will determine what stretching exercises are best suited for the client and may also recommend some stretching be done outside of appointments as well.

While Parkinson’s disease is a tough condition to battle, there are professionals out there who can help.  Though we are still trying to find a way to prevent or cure the disease, therapists and other healthcare professionals are constantly researching more effective ways to battle the disease and help their patients live the best quality of lives as possible.  With proper therapy, many people with Parkinson’s can continue living their lives for years or even decades without any significant impact.  So, if you or someone you know is suffering from this disease, make sure that they are getting the proper care and taking steps with a professional to keep themselves in the best health as possible.

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