Top 5 Physical Therapy Tips for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease – Rio Bentley, PT, DPT
Dr. Rio graduated from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in 2017 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Prior to this, she attended California State University, Fresno, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. Dr. Rio has focused her treatment specialty on working with adults in neurologic recovery.
Rio grew up just south of Rochester in Stewartville, MN on the family farm. In her free time, she enjoys equestrian, basketball, sand volleyball, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her dog Kobe.
Top 5 Physical Therapy Tips for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition caused by the loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra of the brain. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain. The disease causes changes in movement that can greatly affect the QOL of our clients. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but Physical Therapy can help improve the symptoms! Here are 5 big tips for clients who have Parkinson’s disease.
1. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise
You have heard it before. Exercise is essential for your health. Exercise has a long list of benefits but finding a schedule and routine that keep you accountable can difficult. Find something you enjoy or someone to help do it with you! Regular movement and activity make a huge difference in clients with this diagnosis.
Stiffness over time can lead to poor posture. These postural changes will not only lead to more stiffness, but it also decreases lung capacity due to lack of chest expansion, changes your base of support which can lead to falls, and will lead to pain if not corrected. Make sure you have a plan in place for awareness of your body position!
One of the biggest concerns of clients with Parkinson’s is repeated falls. Loss of balance reactions and stiffness will continue to worsen over time if they are not addressed. Your Physical Therapist can help tailor a plan that is right for you!
We already mentioned this in the Exercise section, but accountability is true for all aspects of managing Parkinson’s disease. Clients I work with frequently tell me the importance of routine and having a support person who helps them stay on track. They tell me how much their movement quality and quality of life decrease when they go off their plan—and note sometimes they just need that extra push from someone else to get back on the consistency wagon!
5. Overdo it
Research into activity with Parkinson’s disease discussed performing an activity at a level above baseline. This means that if you planned to go for a walk, walk at an increased pace. If you are doing some posture activities, think about “over-stretching” or making a larger movement than seems needed. Doing this helps ensure that you achieve a better range of motion.
Physical Therapy is one the of biggest treatment options for patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. We can help tailor and customize a plan based around these principles to help you whether you were diagnosed yesterday or twenty years ago. We want our clients to be safe, so we highly recommend working with a PT prior to starting any type of regimen or routine on your own!
I look forward to seeing you in the clinic soon!
Rio Bentley, PT ,DPT
PT Team Lead