Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition affecting activities such as walking, talking, and writing. It is named after Dr. James Parkinson, the London doctor who first identified Parkinson’s as a specific condition.
Parkinson’s disease occurs as result of a reduction of nerve cells in the part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. These cells are responsible for producing a chemical known as dopamine, which assists in the transmission of messages sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement. With the significant reduction in the number of dopamine-producing cells, these parts of the brain are unable to function normally.
Effects of Parkinson’s Disease
Common motor symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease are:
- Tremor – usually begins in one hand (the first symptom for 70% of people with Parkinson’s disease).
- Slowness of movement – people with Parkinson’s disease often find that they have difficulty initiating movements or that performing movements takes longer.
- Stiffness or rigidity of muscles – people with Parkinson’s disease often find that they have problems with activities such as standing up from a chair or rolling over in bed.
- Postural instability – leads to impaired balance and falls.
- Gait and posture disturbances:
- Shuffling gait
- Decreased arm swing
- Stooped, forward-flexed posture
- Gait freezing – occurs in tight, cluttered spaces, doorways or when initiating gait
- Other motor symptoms:
- Mask-like, expressionless face with infrequent blinking
- Micrographia (small, cramped handwriting)
Various non-motor symptoms may also be experienced, for example:
- Sleep disturbance
- Urinary urgency
Parkinson’s Disease Physiotherapy Treatment
Physiotherapy is very important in the management of Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease usually have mobility problems and are often at high risk of falls. PhysioActive aim to increase mobility and advise on changes to the home environment to increase independence and safety.
Independence is increased with:
- Balance, stretching and strengthening exercises and provision of walking aids and equipment.
- Your physiotherapist will assess how an individual performs activities such as; walking, going up and down stairs, getting out of a chair and getting in and out of bed.
- We can teach patients, their family and carers, special strategies on how do deal with common symptoms of Parkinson’s. Family and carers often find this advice and the practical handling techniques particularly helpful, in relation to helping individuals out of bed, walking and overcoming freezing.
- Home visit to advise on safety changes that may be required
- A specific falls prevention programme can be created to be completed between physiotherapy sessions to increase safety and reduce risk of falls.