How can physical therapy help with my Parkinson’s?
The focus of physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease is to maximize functional mobility, decrease likelihood of falls, and improve tolerance to activities of daily living through an individualized exercise program. While attending physical therapy, you will learn strategies to move with greater ease and improve your physical fitness, so you can continue to do the things you enjoy. Whether that is returning to hiking, working in your garden, or playing with your grandchildren your physical therapist will work with you to reach your goals.
What is LSVT BIG treatment for Parkinson’s?
LSVT BIG is an in-depth, amplitude focused occupational and physical therapy treatment approach for patients with Parkinson’s. The LSVT program has been scientifically researched for the past 25 years and has shown proven results. LSVT BIG treatment has shown improvements in motor functions for people with Parkinson’s. Some of the areas LSVT BIG helps patients include treatment leading to walking faster with bigger steps, increasing trunk rotation, improving balance, and an overall improvement of daily activities. LSVT BIG is an intensive program consisting of 16 sessions in 4 consecutive days for 4 weeks. Each treatment program is unique to each patient and the specific needs he or she has. To learn more about LSVT BIG, visit their website.
What challenges do people with Parkinson’s often face that physical therapy addresses?
Parkinson’s is characterized by four hallmark signs:
- Tremors – shaking, typically at rest
- Rigidity – resistance to passive movement which can lead to loss of reciprocal arm swing
- Bradykinesia – slow movement
- Postural instability – impaired balance and coordination
While PT does not treat every one of these hallmark signs, your physical therapist will assess your limitations and come up with an individualized treatment plan to improve your mobility and decrease your likelihood of falls.
Can Parkinson’s Disease increase my likelihood of falling?
Yes. People with Parkinson’s often walk with a festinating gait pattern. This means that there are often quick, small steps with persistent posturing forward of trunk and head that places the center of gravity forward and increases the likelihood of falls. Individuals with Parkinson’s can also experience a forward accelerating gait that is difficult to stop once they begin moving. Stepping backward can be challenging and is one of the more common movements that result in a fall.
Your physical therapist will work on your walking skills as well as navigating obstacles. This will decrease the likelihood of falls and give you confidence as you go about your day.
How common is Parkinson’s?
One million Americans have Parkinson’s Disease, and many are undiagnosed. The prevalence of people over 50 years old with Parkinson’s is expected to double from four million in 2005 to eight million by 2030. Parkinson’s Disease is a common and familiar treatment population for physical therapists.
What can I do to help myself while I wait for an appointment?
- Get moving! Start creating new habits that incorporate physical activity into your daily life.
- Create a list of questions you would like to discuss with your physical therapist at your appointment. Think of the goals you would like to achieve or the things you would like to be able to do after treatment.
- Find a support group to connect with others that have Parkinson’s disease.
- Keep taking your medication as prescribed by your physician.