Parkinson’s Disease

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE?

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common). It is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately the dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra of the basal ganglia. The cause is unknown and is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There are different types of parkinsonism.

  • Primary Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease is the most common cause of Parkinsonism.
  • Secondary Parkinsonism such as drug-induced Parkinsonism or vascular Parkinsonism.
  • Atypical Parkinsonism, such as Multiple system atrophy (MSA), corticalbasal degeneration (CBD), and Dementia with Lewey bodies.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Movement symptoms:

  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Truncal rigidity
  • Resting tremor
  • Drooling
  • Dizziness
  • Postural instability or balance issues
  • Trouble with moving and walking

Non-movement symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Cognitive changes
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucination
  • Loss of smell
  • Pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Small handwriting
  • Speech & swallowing difficulties
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vision changes

 

HOW CAN A PHYSICAL THERAPIST (PT) HELP?

Physical therapy can help maintaining function and slowing down the disease progression. A physical therapist can help with:

  • Improve and maintain fitness level, strength and flexibility
  • Develop effective strategies for getting in and out bed, transferring between surfaces, getting in and out of a car,
  • Changing directions while walking without freezing.
  • Improve smoothness of walking
  • Improve balance to decrease risk of falling
  • Improve ability to climb stairs and walk on uneven terrains
  • Perform more than one tasks at a time
  • Recommendation of community based exercise and wellness programs

Dr. Nguyen is a Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!) certified therapist. 

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S WELLNESS RECOVERY (PWR!)?

Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!) is a movement based program that specifically target the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease: posture, truncal rigidity, weight shifting and stepping ability through big amplitude movements. PWR! Moves are designed to help clients move bigger and faster. All exercises are done in functional positions: laying down, hands and knees, sitting and standing. All exercises are functional and full body.

HOW CAN AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY (OT) HELP?

OT assists those with Parkinson’s Disease to maximize their independence inside and outside the home. OT interventions may include:

  • Hand-writing
  • Fine motor coordination (tying shoes laces, opening lids & jars, typing on a keyboard)
  • Activities of Daily Living (dressing, grooming, eating, home management)
  • Fatigue management & sleep hygiene
  • Cognitive and memory strategies (daily planners, checklists, specialized apps)
  • Strategies to continue with meaningful leisure and hobbies
  • Posture & seating
  • Safe mobility and transfers
  • Home modifications
  • Fall prevention and safety