parkinson disease


Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and the ability to coordinate movement in the body. Since Parkinson’s Disease affects all areas of the brain, symptoms can vary in individuals and progression can be either mild, moderate or aggressive. Parkinson’s Disease typically affects one’s ability to walk with slower/smaller/more stiff movements (bradykinesia) and difficulty with starting or stopping walking. In addition, movements tend to have tremors that mostly occur in the hands. Muscles can become rigid, leading to loss of motion and poor posture. Some movement patterns observed in patients with Parkinson’s Disease are;

  • Festinating gait – short, rapid steps that are not productive and can precipitate a fall
  • Freezing gait – becoming stuck without an apparent cause, but can me more common at flooring changes or other threshold locations like doorways.
  • Shuffled gait – like festinating gait but at a more controlled pace.

Speech can also be affected with Parkinson’s Disease becoming soft and slow due to reduced amplitude of the mouth, tongue and throat muscles. In addition, eating and drinking can become challenging due to difficulty with swallowing. Symptoms may also include difficulty with writing, becoming illegible (shaking) or small (micrography).

How therapy helps

Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are essential therapies for people with Parkinson’s Disease. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease currently, a tremendous amount can be done to improve one’s function and maintain function. In coordination with your physician, rehabilitation focuses on improving movement, safety, independence with activities, transfers, cognitive and speech / swallowing. Physical therapists focus on improving range of motion, strength, stamina, safety with transfers from low surfaces, posture and movement in patients with Parkinson’s.

Occupational therapists focus on the tasks of daily living, cognitive improvements, coordination with dressing and caring for oneself, and adaptions to be independent as possible with daily living activities. Speech therapists focus on improving speech, safety with eating / drinking, cognitive abilities and improving writing. It is important to note that our rehabilitation professionals work together as a team to help you reach goals along with family training for attaining maximum independence.

Be sure to give our office a call to set up a one-on-one consultation and full evaluation. Our physical therapists are certified, experienced and committed to helping you feel better.