Parkinson’s Disease Outreach

EARLY INTERVENTION FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Have you noticed your daily routine becoming more difficult? Does it feel like you are slowing down? Have you noticed shaking on one side of your body that occurs during stressful or emotional situation? These signs, and others, may be early warning signs of Parkinson’s Disease, which can become a debilitating motor disorder if left untreated. Fortunately, recent research suggests that simply increasing physical activity, especially under the supervision of a Physical Therapist, is a critical component in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

However, often times, physical therapy and exercise are not implemented until well after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease has already occurred. The best time to engage in physical activity is before motor signs have even been identified.

EARLY WARNING SIGNS

Parkinson’s Disease is defined by several hallmark signs.

Hallmark Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
Muscle Stiffness
Slowed Movement
Tremor
Instability

However, these signs are often not identified until up to 6.5 years after the disease process has already begun. Unfortunately, there is no test to definitively diagnosis Parkinson’s Disease, even after the hallmark signs begin to appear. However, there are certain signs and symptoms to look out for that are listed below.

Early Warning Signs
Diminished ability to smell
Disruption of sleep
Inability to perform routine daily activities (climbing stairs, getting into a car)

So, should you be worried if you cannot smell as well as you used to, or are feeling fatigued throughout the day? Of course not, but these signs can alert you to become more conscientious of the quality of your movement. Movement signs to be especially aware of include: heaviness or stiffness of the arms or legs and intermittent shaking of the hands or feet in particular during times of stress or excitement. Initially, these signs are intermittent and located on only one side of the body. Over time, especially if left unaddressed, these signs increase in frequency and progress to the other side.

HOW CAN ACTIVE PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

Physical activity and exercise have been shown to mitigate the progression of Parkinson’s Disease. However, the disease process is never completely shut off. That is why it is critical to seek help as early as possible. Here at Active Physical Therapy our Physical Therapists will be able to help you design an exercise program that is both challenging, and – most importantly – engaging so that you can continue to enjoy all of your current hobbies without slowing down! This can include physical activity as either as simple as walking on a treadmill, or as advanced as high-intensity, non-contact boxing. In the chart below you can read about examples of specific ways Active Physical Therapy can help you!

Treadmill Training Treadmill walking is a great way to begin a treatment session. At Active PT we have an AlterG treadmill, which is essentially an anti-gravity treadmill. This treadmill will allow you to increase your ability to walk and improve your cardio all while decreasing any pain you may have and maintaining a safe environment.
Strength Training Muscle strength declines during physical inactivity. Our Physical Therapists are capable of assessing your current level of strength and designing an individualized strength training program that will improve your ability to meet any physical demand you may encounter throughout the day!
Boxing Research shows that high intensity, large body movements create lasting changes in the brain that improves your ability to perform physical activity. Boxing is a unique activity that requires both small, quick movements and large movements that will create improvements that last well after the boxing session is completed.
Other After your initial examination, our Physical Therapists will be able to design a unique, individualized exercise program that incorporates your personal goals and interests whether it be dancing, martial arts, boxing, or even just walking!

 

Blog Post written by Ethan Grant, SPT

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