Parkinson's Disease Physical Therapy Treatment
Exercise, and physical therapy treatment in particular, can have great benefits for Parkinson’s patients.
Bearing, balance and strength can all be improved, as can walking pace. Physical therapy can also build or maintain
muscle tone and help improve pain.
Bearing and balance problems are typical of Parkinson’s disease, and can lead to greater problems and disability
if not attended to. A period of hospitalization following a fall, perhaps with broken bones or damaged internal
organs, can lead to the need for live-in help or moving to an assisted living facility, which in turn can lead to a
loss of independence.
There is a process called cueing, which trains Parkinson's patients to walk and step in a certain way, thereby
improving their balance and bearing. This could be as simple as taking a measured step to encourage bigger strides,
using for example, the pattern in a carpet as a guide, or even the beat in a musical rhythm to coax the brain into
not freezing up when walking. Parkinson’s disease physical therapy treatment should be ongoing, so that none of the
gains made are lost.
There tends to be a reduction in physical activity by a parkinsons patient, because of the inhibitions brought
about by the fear of falling, or of being seen in public with a case of the shakes. Studies have shown that
strength training can improve some symptoms of the disease. Those Parkinson’s patients who were able to build
up muscle mass showed a promising increase in activity together with a reduction in symptoms. Others showed
improvements to autonomic system activity such as swallowing and digestion, as well as limb dexterity. Mental
clarity was also better and it eased depression.
We know that muscle will lose strength and shrink if not used, so when strength training is employed,
parkinson’s disease and physical therapy maintains a momentum in basic movement which is all to the good.
It was long considered inappropriate to involve older Parkinson’s patients in strength training. It was thought
that muscle stiffness and possibly muscle damage would ensue.
Studies based on animal testing and Parkinson’s disease, now indicate that delays in implementing physical
therapy and exercise programs until late in a diagnosis, have no discernible impact on pain and symptoms reduction.
An early start to both, however, indicated a slowing in the progression of the disease amongst the test animals.
Researchers believe that nerve cells affected by the disease, experience a neuro-protective effect as the result of
The bottom line is that Parkinson’s disease and physical therapy go together. It is essential that a doctor is
consulted to prescribe the correct exercises or that a specialist healthcare professional is involved, and that
there is continuity of activity so that progress is maintained.
Parkinsons disease physical therapy treatment can bring about reductions in symptoms and pain, so is definitely
worth the effort