Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by a variety of symptoms. The disease involves a loss of dopamine producing cells, the cells that help transmit the signals for movement. The symptoms of Parkinson’s are sometimes visible, including tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity and impaired balance. Other symptoms such as fatigue, soft speech, sleep disturbances and constipation can also be present with this disease.
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, physiotherapy and exercise can play a key role in mitigating the symptoms and health impacts associated with this condition. The Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease states that formal exercise programs are essential in improving independence in daily activities, reducing bradykinesia (slowness of movement), improving speed of ambulation (walking or moving about) and decreasing falls.
Posture education is an important aspect of treatment in Parkinson’s. A physiotherapist can provide stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as posture education to help with the stooped posture that often accompanies PD. In addition, therapists are able to assess and treat posture related pain that may be present.
Related story: Improving Balance and Posture Makes Daily Activities Safer
Balance training is an important part of minimizing the risk of falls in people with PD and helping them to maintain their independence. Physiotherapists can provide an individualized balance program that meets the needs of the client, no matter at what stage of disease progression. At Propel Physiotherapy, safe and challenging balance training is maximized through the use of our harness system. We also offer group balance classes to help motivate and challenge clients.
Exercise physiologist Shriya Maharaj shares tips for managing steps, which can be a challenge when injury or illness has affected your balance.
People with PD often experience gait impairments as the disease progresses. These can include shortened step length with increased cadence of steps, freezing and decreased gait speed. Gait training is critical to maintain an individual’s independence with mobility. This can involve treadmill training, dual task training and auditory cuing to help clients achieve an efficient and typical gait pattern.
Physiotherapy and exercise-based interventions are an essential component in the treatment of movement-based disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. A formal, structured program is often the best approach to enhance motivation and results to maintain quality of life for those living with PD.
For more information about Propel Physiotherapy’s neurological injuries rehabilitation services or any of our therapies or classes, please contact us.
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