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Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s Disease: Here’s what you need to know

Likely, you are now looking for Parkinson's therapy if you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with Parkinson's. This diseaese has extremely variable symptoms, which are frequently incurable. Because of this, therapy for Parkinson's disease will concentrate on reducing the symptoms, which frequently include pain, stiffness, and Parkinson's tremor. In addition to medications, Parkinson's disease treatment includes physiotherapy activities to preserve the affected person's quality of life.

This blog will help you better understand Parkinson's disease and how physiotherapy for Parkinson's works to lessen pain and stiffness associated with the disease.

Defining Parkinson's disease

James Parkinson was the one who identified Parkinson's disease (PD) as a sickness in the early 1800s. There are both motor and non-motor symptoms linked with this complicated neurodegenerative illness. The latter is characterized by deficiencies in cognitive functions, such as behavior management, planning, and execution. 

The preceding characteristics include tremors at rest, stiffness, which is characterized by an increase in resistance, and bradykinesia, which is described as slowness of movement and is associated with abnormalities of the basal ganglia (group of neurons situated deep inside cerebral hemispheres).

What causes Parkinson's disease? 

It is unknown why Parkinson's disease develops and how the nerve cells are harmed. Parkinson's symptoms might differ from person to person as well. As the illness worsens, so do the symptoms. One individual may experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease, while another person may not experience any symptoms at all. 

The initial symptoms usually happen between the ages of 50 and 60. Even the individual who has them frequently fails to recognize how slowly they grow.

Physiotherapy for Parkinson's disease 

As a multidisciplinary field, the physiotherapist's primary responsibility is to optimize the patient's functional potential while limiting any secondary issues that may arise from movement therapy through support and education.

Parkinson's disease can be alleviated with physiotherapy, focusing on transfers, posture, upper-limb function, balance, physical capacity, and exercise. To preserve or improve the patient's degree of independence and general quality of life, physiotherapists may also utilize cognitive movement and cueing tactics and exercise.

Physiotherapists work to encourage participation in leisure activities that improve fitness and inclusion in community activities during the initial stages of Parkinson's disease when symptoms are not as harmful. 

Patients are taught movement techniques when their symptoms worsen to get through their struggles with cognition and movement. This involves the physical therapist finding ways to compensate for lost function.

It is evident that the effects of physiotherapy for Parkinson's disease via various methods employed help raise patients' quality of life. 

Additionally, some mobility rehabilitation techniques that physiotherapists employ have immediate advantages. Exercises focusing on learning and aerobics have been proven to be most beneficial for those with Parkinson's disease. The elderly with PD have been found to benefit most from these workouts regarding neuroprotection.

Exercises that enhance biomechanics, posture, trunk movement, general symmetric movement, and cardio-pulmonary performance have been proven to be extremely beneficial in treating neurodegenerative diseases. Exercises that force PD sufferers to alter their speed, activity, or direction—also referred to as random practice exercises—have been proven beneficial. But it's still not apparent which strategy works best. However, physiotherapy is a vital component of the multidisciplinary approach to treating Parkinson's disease.

Various methods that physiotherapists will employ

Stretching and flexibility 

Patients with Parkinson's disease frequently have a stiff calf, hamstring, and hip flexor muscles. The role of physiotherapy in muscle recovery for Parkinson’s patients can never be undermined. Physiotherapists will employ frequent stretching sessions throughout the day rather than just once to combat that tightness. Ask a skilled Parkinson's-specific trainer or therapist to demonstrate for you.

Balance work

Normal balance results from the interaction between your feet's ability to feel the ground under them, your inner ear, which aids in orientation, and what you see (visual input). Parkinson's disease can damage this balance system, causing instability in your stride (how you walk), which may make you anxious in crowded or public places. 

Walking drills, or gait training, might be beneficial. A physical therapist should supervise exercises meant to enhance balance since they may help you identify balance problems and teach you workarounds.

Amplitude training 

LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) is a particular type of physical therapy training for Parkinson's disease. It is intended to assist people living with Parkinson's in increasing what is known as the amplitude of movement. 

You perform overly dramatic physical gestures when participating in LSVT such as high steps and arms swinging. It's a technique for retraining the muscles and halting the onset of hypokinesia, the Parkinson's disease-related phenomenon of smaller, shuffling motions. Inquire about LSVT with your physical therapist.

Reciprocal patterns 

Side-to-side and left-to-right patterns, such as swinging your arms as you walk, are reciprocal motions. Parkinson's disease could impact these patterns. By using an elliptical machine or recumbent bicycle (a stationary bike in which you sit in a reclined posture), your therapist may be able to assist you in strengthening reciprocal patterns (in which you use your arms and legs). 

You must practice walking while paying attention to how your arms move can help you. Chanting or singing might aid in maintaining the beat. Additionally helpful are dance and tai chi lessons.

Strength building 

Age-related muscle deterioration makes strength training essential for everyone. Certified physiotherapists in Calgary believe that muscular weakness is a more significant issue for people with Parkinson's. 

A therapist may ask you to perform resistance exercises with light dumbbells or a resistance band, relying on the stage of the condition you are in. They might also suggest pool-based sessions that use the water's resistance to build muscle.

When should you see a physiotherapist for Parkinson's disease?

Any stage of Parkinson's can be helped by the guidance and suggestions a physiotherapist can offer. If necessary, a physiotherapist can offer therapy to prevent, stabilize, or lessen any issues you may have with your everyday functioning and overall mobility. 

It is suggested that you speak with a physiotherapist as soon as you can following your diagnosis so that they can help you manage your Parkinson's disease on your own. If you consult a physiotherapist, you should always inform your neurologist. Parkinson's is difficult to manage. Therefore it's crucial to consult a physiotherapist with knowledge of the illness.