Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative disease that can result in a number of different symptoms depending on the stage of severity.
Physical therapy, however, is a great resource to use to slow the effects of this progressive disease and minimize the impact on your daily life.
Remember to make sure that the clinic you’re considering for treatment has a Parkinson’s disease physical therapist.
This way, you know that they’ll be experienced and knowledgeable about the disease.
Here at Capitol Physical Therapy in Washington DC we offer physical therapy treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
But if you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you might be confused and even a little overwhelmed at what it means.
So let’s take a closer look.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a loss of nerve cells in your brain which produce the chemical dopamine.
This lack of dopamine creates a chemical imbalance that affects a number of your body’s functions including movement control, thought processes, decision making, and even your mood regulation.
Ultimately, it’s a progressive, degenerative disease, which means the disease characteristics worsen over time.
Other examples of progressive diseases include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is caused by an issue with a part of your brain called the substantia nigra.
The nerve cells in this area are responsible for producing dopamine, and with Parkinson’s disease these nerve cells begin to die off.
The reason why this happens, however, is not known.
Some factors that may contribute to the onset of the disease include family history, aging, or exposure to particular environmental toxins.
This 2004 paper showed men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women.
As a result, physical therapy for men is more likely to involve treatment for Parkinson’s disease than physical therapy for women.
Because it’s a disease commonly associated with aging, physical therapy for seniors often involves treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease?
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary depending on the severity of the disease.
The severity is not necessarily age based because it progresses in each individual at different rates.
Some minor symptoms can develop many years before you notice any movement related symptoms develop.
These include a decreased sense of smell, light headedness when standing, and sleep challenges.
The initial motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can start off very mild.
One common example is a tremor in one hand when you’re resting.
You can also experience these tremors in your legs or jaw while resting.
At this stage, these tremors don’t usually impact daily activities.
As it progresses, other common motor symptoms include:
- Movements like walking become smaller than usual
- Muscle rigidity
- The need for chronic pain treatments
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Lower back pain
- Poor posture
- The need for treatments for poor balance
- Slowed movements
- Stooped posture
- Difficulty speaking at a normal volume
- Difficulty swallowing or making facial expressions
How Does A Physical Therapist Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease?
There is not one test that can completely diagnose Parkinson’s disease.
This can make it a little tricky to diagnose.
Your physical therapist will recommend you to a neurologist for a neurological examination based on your medical history and symptoms.
This is the case especially if you have many of the common symptoms listed above, or they only manifest on one side of your body.
How Physical Therapists Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease affects each person very differently.
For this reason, the first thing your physical therapist will do is carry out a comprehensive evaluation in order to examine your posture, strength, flexibility, walking, balance, endurance, and coordination.
Then, they will use these results to create a custom treatment plan to help you stay active, independent, and mobile for as long as possible.
This treatment plan may include:
- Gait training physical therapy
- Pain management physical therapy
- Fall prevention strategies
- A wellness program to maintain your strength and fitness level
- Hand therapy to maintain your fine motor skills
More specifically, your physical therapist will help you:
- Develop effective strategies to get in and out of bed, chairs, and cars
- Learn to turn over in bed more easily
- Improve your walking coordination
- Improve your pivot and change directions efficiently
- Improve your stair climbing ability
- Learn to continue to participate in the activities you care about
If you were also instructed to begin taking Parkinson’s disease medications, your physical therapist will know how to time your treatment plan in order to maximize the effects of your medication to get you the best results.
It’s also sometimes helpful to use a cane or a walker depending on how your Parkinson’s disease has progressed.
Your physical therapist can work with you to determine if these aids could be helpful to you, or recommend other devices that can help with a variety of daily tasks.
Remember, your physical therapist is a great resource that can also help you with education and answers to any related questions.
They’re here to support you and maintain your quality of living for as long as possible.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
You can see there’s a wide variety of benefits working with a physical therapist can bring you if you have Parkinson’s disease.
They will create a custom program that will keep you mobile and comfortable during the course of your disease.
It’s important to remember that when considering a physical therapist, look for one who has experience working with neurological diseases.
This way, they will be in a better position to help you due to their incredible experience.
Book an appointment today with Capitol Physical Therapy to get started.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC