Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease


What Is It?

Did you know Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neuro-degenerative disease in the world behind Alzheimer’s disease? Approximately 300 per 100,000 people will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Did you know Michael J. Fox suffer from Parkinson’s disease? Did you know he was diagnosed at just 29 years old? Whilst it is most common to see Parkinson’s disease occur much later in life it is important to recognise it can also occur in the younger population. Although Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition, the life expectancy is near normal.

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder which affects the basal ganglia, although there is degeneration far more widespread in the brain. It is the loss of dopamine in the basal ganglia however that leads to the impairments we observe in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

What are the impairments often seen with Parkinson’s disease? There will be change to movement. This will include slow or absent movement, possible tremors either at rest or with high frequency movements, decreased size of movement and/or increased stiffness. Their walking pattern will be slow with shuffled steps and either reduced or absent arm swing. When communicating, speech will often be soft and unemotional with a lack of facial expression. It is not uncommon to see depression, anxiety, apathy and psychosis affect most people at some stage throughout the course of Parkinson’s disease.

If Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition then how can physiotherapy help? Physiotherapy can play a role at all stages of Parkinson’s diagnosis. In the early stages of diagnosis where symptoms are mild, focus is on preventing inactivity, reducing fear of moving and falling and improving or maintaining physical capacity. As the disease progresses and becomes moderate, falls prevention and reducing the impact on posture, transfers, reaching and grasping, balance and gait becomes the goal. Finally in the severe stage of the disease, physiotherapists will work on preventing contractures and maintaining vital function.

It was mentioned on the news just last month scientists may have had a breakthrough in their Parkinson’s disease research and hope that what they have found will help to cure the disease. So, keep an ear out for the possibility of a cure for the currently incurable Parkinson’s disease.

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If you are an enthusiastic, motivated and caring individual looking to make a difference to people’s lives, then reach out to us and join our ever growing team. We are always looking grow our network of therapists so that we can help more people!

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