• April is Parkinson Awareness Month

    April 24, 2017
  • Did you know April is Parkinson’s Awareness month? The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation is working to help educate and shatter the myths around the disease.

    Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms. Parkinson’s generally develops after age of 65, but about 15 percent of patients have a young onset form of the disease that can appear before age 50.

    The disease involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson’s primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

    The specific group of symptoms that an individual experiences varies from person to person. Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following.

    • tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
    • bradykinesia or slowness of movement
    • rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
    • postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

    How Can Physical Therapy Help Parkinson’s Disease?

    Physical therapy cannot cure Parkinson’s disease, because at this time, neurological damage cannot be reversed. But therapy can help you compensate for the changes brought about by the condition. These “compensatory treatments,” as they’re called, include learning about new movement techniques, strategies, and equipment. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen and loosen muscles. Many of these exercises can be performed at home. The goal of physical therapy is to improve your independence and quality of life by improving movement and function and relieving pain.

    Physical Therapy Help Parkinson’s Disease with:

    • Balance problems
    • Lack of coordination
    • Fatigue
    • Pain
    • Gait
    • Immobility
    • Weakness

    How Can Occupational Therapy Help Parkinson’s Disease?

    For Parkinson’s disease, occupational therapy generally provides assessment, treatment and recommendations in the following areas:

    • Arm and hand therapy
    • Handwriting aids
    • Home modification information
    • Driver evaluation and vehicle modification information
    • Cooking and homemaking adaptations
    • Eating and dinnerware adaptations
    • Ways to make the most of your energy
    • Computer modifications
    • Workplace or work equipment modifications
    • Leisure skill development
    • Manual or electric wheelchair use
    • Bathtub and toilet equipment use
    • Dressing and grooming aids