The ability to move around and stay active is important for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), from diagnosis throughout the course of the disease. The role of physical therapy is to help you keep moving as well and as long as possible, while enhancing the ability to move. Recent research suggests that physical therapy — including gait and balance training, resistance training and regular exercise — may help improve or hold the symptoms of PD at bay.
Physical therapists can be helpful at all stages of PD. Movement impairments in the initial stages of the disease are not always obvious. By not engaging a physical therapist with a neurological specialization as part of their medical team, people with Parkinson’s often miss the window of opportunity to address these impairments early. Talk to your doctor about getting a baseline physical therapy evaluation and then continue with periodic re-evaluations.
According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of Parkinson’s disease through our Centers of Excellence network, increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow decline in quality of life. The Parkinson’s Foundation has identified specific care approaches associated with better outcomes across patients who seek expert care at our designated care centers. Among others, best practices include early referral to physical therapy and encouragement of exercise as part of treatment.
A physical therapist is uniquely trained to design an exercise routine that targets specific motor impairments. Physical therapists also have an opportunity to provide frequent, direct feedback to help make you aware of how to exercise most effectively and safely.
A physical therapist can provide:
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