Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that results from degeneration in the area of the brain that controls movements. This disease is the second most common degenerative disorder of the central nervous system following Alzheimer disease. Parkinson’s disease is most commonly diagnosed in adults between the ages of 50 to 79.
Parkinson’s disease generally progresses slowly and many of the signs and symptoms appear gradually. The first symptoms appearing include tremoring, movement problems, and a reduced sense of smell. Muscle stiffness or rigidity occurs later on, which makes movements more difficult. Movements may also become slower and hard to initiate. Changes in posture are also commonly seen including rounding of the shoulders, forward head, and flexion of the knees and hips. Balance problems also occur, therefore people with Parkinson’s disease can be more prone to falls. Other signs and symptoms include sleep problems, difficulty swallowing, urination problems, and dementia.
Physiotherapy can play an important role in helping people with Parkinson’s disease manage their physical symptoms and maintain their independence. A physiotherapist will first perform a detailed assessment of you in order to develop a treatment plan. Interventions can include balance and gait training to reduce your risk of falls and improve balance reactions. Movement retraining and exercises may be performed to increase your muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance, and maintain joint flexibility. A home exercise program may be prescribed in order to increase your function and strength. You or your caregivers may also be taught proper transfer techniques in order to increase your autonomy and safety during daily activities. Other physiotherapy treatments include postural retraining, education, breathing techniques, energy conservation principles, and recommendations for the use of assistive devices to increase your safety and independence.
Age Well Physiotherapy
Kristen Lillie, M.SC., B.Sc.