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Last updated Jun 25, 2021

Why Physical Therapy is Important for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Why Physical Therapy is Important for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease


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Parkinson’s disease is the 2nd most common age-related nervous disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that 7 to 10 million people have this condition. Parkinson’s diseases affect your social life and finances because you have to keep up with treatment expenses. It is crucial to spread awareness about Parkinson’s disease in the UAE because symptoms take a long time to show. Although PD is prevalent to people 50 years and older, it can affect people as young as 35.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects your movement. Symptoms start gradually over the years and are barely noticeable. The development of symptoms varies in different patients. Early signs are usually mild and might go undetected; they start on one side of your body and become severe on that side even after it spreads. Common signs and symptoms include;

·       Rigid muscles - Muscle stiffness in any part of your body; can be painful and limit movement.

·       Tremors - Tremors/shaking usually start in the limbs like fingers or hands. Your hand might tremble involuntarily.

·       Impaired balance and posture - You develop a slouched posture or balance problems.

·       Slowed movement - Parkinson's disease gradually slows your movement.

·       Changes in speech - You might speak quickly, softly, slur, or hesitate before speaking.

·       Loss of automatic movements like smiling, blinking, or swinging your arms while walking.

·       Writing changes - You might find it challenging to write, and your writing might be smaller.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

It is crucial for people with Parkinson’s disease to stay active. A therapist can help you at any stage of this Parkinson’s disease. Although there is no cure for PD, appropriate medication and exercise are helpful. Therapy helps in the following ways;

Postural Assessment

Parkinson’s disease can cause drooped posture; this is one of the primary symptoms of this condition. Changes in posture happen in the last stages; it is characterized by the inability to stand upright. You might even fall backward when somebody slightly jerks you.

People with Parkinson’s disease experience symptoms in various degrees; these change with the disease progression. Postural instability shows up when performing various tasks like standing up, rising from your bed, turning, etc.

It’s crucial to go for a checkup from the best occupational therapists Dubai clinics if you suspect you might have this condition. The therapist evaluates your posture and provides solutions to improve or maintain posture. Physical therapy helps to control your posture.

Balance

Postural instability and balance dysfunction in PD are among the primary determinants of limited quality of life. Balance problems occur in the middle to late stages of this disease. Balance difficulties are linked to changes that happen in the brain caused by Parkinson’s disease. It becomes challenging to balance automatically when you experience freeze and fall. PD changes the part of your brain that allows you to balance and avoid falling.

Fortunately, physical therapy interventions like balance training coupled with muscle-strengthening, walking, and movement training improve balance. These exercises help to improve hip extensors, hip flexors and abductors, ankle dorsiflexors and plantar flexors, and knee flexors and extensors.

Flexibility


(Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-in-black-shirt-holding-his-right-hand-5327482/)

One of the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is rigidity, muscle stiffness, and inability to move. Rigidity happens involuntarily, usually in the shoulders, leg, and arm muscles. A stiff, painful shoulder is one of the earliest signs of PD in some people. It can be unilateral (on only one side of the body) or bilateral (both sides).

You can also feel rigidity in the neck and trunk and hips and ankles. It can prevent you from moving effortlessly; this, in turn, can lead to more stiffness. This can cause pain or discomfort in the muscles. Physical therapy keeps your muscles flexible, improves balance, and keeps you from falling.

A physiotherapist designs the best exercises to improve flexibility; it usually includes strength and range of motion exercises. If you have a rigid face, a speech therapist helps you to improve those face muscles. It is crucial to start physical therapy soon after diagnosis to manage this condition successfully.

Reduces Fatigue

Some people with PD might experience mental or physical exhaustion. Fatigue associated with Parkinson’s disease is different from how you feel from insomnia or after a long day at work. It is deep tiredness that does not go away even with rest.

About ½ of all patients with PD experience fatigue. It happens in the early stages but can occur at any point. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating and deep tiredness. Physical therapy helps to release tension in your muscles; this increases circulation and relaxes you.

Pain Management

You might experience changes in your spine, feet, and hands as PD progresses. Parkinson’s disease pain has 5 categories;

1.     Musculoskeletal (muscle) pain

This is the most common type of pain for people with PD. It is associated with reduced joint movement and rigidity. It resembles an ache in the back and neck, but it can affect any body part. It affects ligaments, nerves, tendons, muscles, and bones.

2.     Dystonia

This is brought about by involuntary muscle contractions; it can be severe in some individuals. Its characteristics include repetitive muscle spasms, twisting, or cramps that happen at various times of the day. These contractions can happen in fingers, toes, wrists, or ankles. It might also affect the neck.

3.     Radicular (shooting) pain

Radicular pain feels like a sharp, shooting, after-shock pain that goes down your leg or arm. And sometimes toes and fingers. You might also experience numbness and tingling in your fingers and toes.

4.     Central pain

This pain can be caused by PD or other spine or brain conditions. It is characterized by a bloated, burning, or stabbing feeling.

5.     Dyskinetic pain

This is a deep, aching feeling; it can happen because of involuntary movements or during or after movement.

Complementary therapies are used alongside medication to manage pain in Parkinson’s disease.

 

If you have Parkinson’s disease, your primary caregiver will refer you to a physical therapist to help you manage this condition. Physical therapy helps with mobility and reduces pain.

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