Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the United States. It causes motor difficulties by destroying brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical that helps to control body movement and balance. Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include difficulty performing normal activities due to muscle stiffness and movements that become slower and smaller.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are treatments available that can slow disease progression. Often combined with medication, physical therapy for Parkinsons disease is a key component of treatment. By increasing balance, mobility, and strength, physical therapy helps you remain independent as long as possible.
Perform Specially Designed Exercises
When you have Parkinson’s, you can’t go to just anyone for physical therapy in Fort Collins, CO. You have to see a therapist who specializes in neurologic physical therapy and has expertise in treating people with Parkinson’s disease. A physical therapist with these qualifications can guide you through exercises designed specifically to counteract the effects of Parkinson’s:
- Amplitude training to keep movements from becoming small and shuffling.
- Balance work to prevent falls by stabilizing gait.
- Flexibility training to prevent stiffness of the calf muscles, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
- Reciprocal patterns to preserve side-to-side motions.
- Strength training with dumbbells, resistance bands, or water resistance to combat excessive muscle weakness.
Exercises such as these are beneficial to Parkinson’s patients at every stage of the disease. However, they have the most effect in the early stages. By helping to control symptoms and slow disease progression, physical therapy can help you live independently as long as possible.
Achieve Patient-Specific & Family Goals
Your treatment plan for Parkinson’s disease, including physical therapy, is tailored to your individual needs. No Parkinson’s treatment plan is exactly like another. This is beneficial for you because it allows you to be involved in formulating your own treatment plan by setting your own goals for movement.
For example, if pain is the Parkinson’s symptom that is most worrying to you, a physical therapist can create a treatment plan that concentrates on alleviating it. If your biggest concern is the possibility of falling and injuring yourself, your physical therapist can assess your fall risk and design a program that focuses on improving balance and gait.
Setting goals for physical therapy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Because your family is probably involved in your care, they also have a say in the goals for physical therapy.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of physical activity for patients with Parkinson’s disease. For example, the largest clinical study on the disease was conducted by the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, and it found that at least 2.5 hours per week of physical activity can cause the decline in quality of life to slow. Because physical therapy is focused and guided by an experienced professional, it is even more important than general exercise and physical activity.
It is never too late to start physical therapy in Old Town Fort Collins for Parkinson’s disease. However, if your disease is in its early stages, you have more to gain by scheduling an evaluation as soon as possible.