How Physiotherapy Can Help With Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a frustrating condition for patients as it severely hampers motor skills. Patients are forced to move slowly and the “automated” involuntary responses seem to go awry – missing the mark every time.
Parkinson’s patients can easily go from struggling with moving around their homes to taking charge of activities like driving and shopping with the help of physical therapy.
Physical therapy not only relieves patients of physical symptoms such as stiffness, pain, weakness, balance and depth perception but also fosters the confidence to reclaim their lives.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that involves the gradual and sustained degeneration of the central nervous system. Since our nervous system is the primary medium through which the grain sends sensory information to our body parts, having an affected nervous system impacts our mobility.
This happens when our nerve cells lose the ability to produce dopamine and, as a result, the internal communication within our bodies is affected. This causes great difficulty in keeping up with routine functions such as walking across the room.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s as of yet, but there are certain procedures that can ease the pain and make the condition tolerable.
What are the Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease?
When a person suffers from Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells fail to produce enough dopamine to send signals to the brain to control conscious and unconscious actions. The condition gets progressively worse over time.
However, there are means through which one could reduce the impact of this condition to a certain extent. Such treatment options include medication, surgery, and physical therapy.
As the symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, and walking issues start to appear, doctors may prescribe certain commonly regarded medications such as Levodopa, MAO B Inhibitors, Dopamine Agonists and Antivirals.
These medicines are, however, more useful at the initial stages of the disease. After time elapses, these medications start to lose the effectiveness they had at earlier stages.
The prescription and dosage depend on the severity of the condition.
In the case of Parkinson’s disease, a surgical procedure known as “Deep Brain Stimulation” has provided patients with good results.
A wire is placed inside of the patient’s brain and helps the brain more effectively receive electrical signals. If effective, this improves the functioning power of the brain.
Physical therapy can help patients deal with the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Specially designed exercises such as breathing, stretching, rhythmic, static and dynamic exercises are implemented to relieve some of the pain experienced by the patient.
Appropriate physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease also helps to slow down the further acceleration of the disease and its symptoms as well as help regain joint movement and muscle strength.
How Can Physiotherapy Benefit Those With Parkinson’s Disease?
Apart from medication and surgical procedures, it has been established that physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease yields great results. Physiotherapy can benefit a patient suffering from Parkinson’s in resisting the regressive changes that follow this disease and in recovering from it.
Physiotherapy can have many positive effects on patients with Parkinson’s disease:
- Increased Flexibility. Physical therapy carried out by professional physiotherapists reduces the rigidity and stiffness in the body by means of massage therapy.
- Increased Strength. Massage therapy using a strengthening technique can help patients regain strength.
- Reduced Fatigue. Fatigue is the feeling of chronic tiredness. Physiotherapy releases the tension in the muscles and increases blood circulation, creating feelings of relaxation and rest.
- Improved Movement. One of the many goals of a physiotherapist is to help improve the movement of the patient. By continuously encouraging the patient to move, a physical therapist actually improves their movement potential.
- Reduced Stress. Living with Parkinson’s disease can be a stressful ordeal for patients. Physiotherapists can reduce a patient’s stress by rectifying muscle imbalances and reducing pain in targeted areas.
- Reduced Risk of Fall. Physiotherapists instruct a patient on how to better balance their bodies to reduce the risk of falling.
- Encourage Patient Mobility. Through regular exercises, physiotherapists help patients of Parkinson’s disease stay mobile and agile.
- Increased Control and Movement. By helping patients regain mobility, physiotherapy encourages patients to regain control of their bodies in order to gradually gain confidence in living an independent life.
- Boost Self Confidence. As the patient gradually improves with the help of physical therapy, their general well-being improves as well. Physiotherapy uplifts the mood and increases the patient’s overall quality of life.
Physical Therapy Exercises for Parkinson’s Disease
It is common for Parkinson’s patients to completely give up exercising due to the pain involved in moving muscles and joints. Unfortunately, doing so actually worsens the pain. Thus, patients are stuck in a vicious cycle of avoiding exercise to avoid pain but actually causing more pain by not exercising.
Parkinson’s disease makes it difficult for patients to perform complex motor programs. However, the loss of automatic response in patients can be countered with exercises that demand attention, repetition, progression of difficulty and promote learning.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease get worse over time but physical therapy can help to make them more manageable. A trained physiotherapist will develop an exercise program to help patients handle day-to-day chores and activities as well as address balance issues, lack of coordination, fatigue, pain, gait, posture, immobility and weakness.
A physical therapy plan for a patient with Parkinson’s disease involves a combination of exercises that promote posture, biomechanics, increased strength and flexibility and stimulates cognitive abilities in patients.
Here are some examples of exercises a physiotherapist may develop to help a patient with Parkinson’s disease:
- Hydro/Aquatic Therapy. Water provides sufficient resistance to improve endurance while its buoyancy provides support to weak muscles.
- Range of Motion Exercises. These exercises are used to improve muscle tone, reduce stiffness and increase mobility.
- Flexibility Exercises. Flexibility exercises involve large, rhythmic movements at a full range of motion to improve flexibility levels.
- Strength Training. Strength training is performed under strict supervision to build up a patient’s muscle and bones in order to improve posture, balance, and gait.
Don’t Let Parkinson’s Halt Your Life
Living with Parkinson’s Disease can be a challenge but that should not stop anyone from living their life. Although there is no cure, it can be kept under control with the help of prescribed medications and physical therapy.
Our licensed physiotherapists and massage therapists are proud to serve the Edmonton and Calgary areas by providing in-home physical therapy for Parkinson’s patients.
To book an appointment, or for more information, please contact InHome Physical Therapy and Massage today.