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PARKINSON'S and STROKE MANAGEMENT
Parkinson's Disease and Physical Therapy It’s well-known that exercise of all kinds is beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s disease. But physical therapy, in particular, is key. Why?
A professional can guide you through the right moves to increase mobility, strength and balance, and help you remain independent, says Dr Zoe Crawford, DPT who works with patients who have Parkinson’s.
Improving the amplitude and strength of how movements should feel is the foundation for effective physical therapy for the Parkinson's population.
LSVT BIG Certified Clinicians ensure our clients are provided with the highest level of care to maximize and maintain their best life.
Here are things a therapist may work on: Amplitude Training A specific form of physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease is called LSVT BIG training. It’s meant to help patients with Parkinson’s increase what we call ‘amplitude of movement'
In LSVT BIG, you make over-exaggerated physical movements, like high steps and arm swings. It’s a way to retrain the muscles and slow down the progression of hypokinesia, the increasingly smaller, more shuffling movements that happen with Parkinson’s. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about LSVT BIG.
Reciprocal Patterns Reciprocal movements are side-to-side and left-to-right patterns, such as swinging your arms while taking steps as you walk. Parkinson’s disease may affect these patterns. Your therapist may help you reinforce reciprocal patterns by the use of a recumbent bicycle (a stationary bike in which you sit in a reclined position) or elliptical machine (in which you use your arms and legs). On your own, Practice walking, keeping in mind the swinging of your arms. It may help to chant or sing to keep the rhythm. Dance classes and tai chi are also useful.
Balance Work Normal balance is an interplay among what you see (visual feedback), your inner ear (which helps you orient yourself) and how your feet sense the ground beneath them. Parkinson’s disease can affect this balance system, making your gait (how you walk) unstable, which in turn may make you fearful to be in public or crowded spaces. Gait training (practice walking) can help. Exercises that aim to improve balance should be guided by a physical therapist, who can work with you to understand any issues with balance and teach you ways to compensate.
Sretching and Flexibility It’s common for patients with Parkinson’s disease to develop tight hip flexor, hamstring and calf muscles. To counteract that stiffness, it’s best to stretch at frequent intervals throughout the day, rather than just once. Ask a qualified trainer or therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s to show you how.
Strength Training Muscles naturally weaken with age, so strength training is important for everyone. But research suggests that muscle weakness is a bigger problem for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Depending on what stage of the disease you are in, a therapist might have you do resistance exercises with light dumbbells or a resistance band (a kind of thick rubber band). Pool-based classes, using the water’s resistance to strengthen muscles, can also be a good fit, she says.
Note: Please discuss any exercise program with your physician/neurologist and get a referral to a physical therapist or trainer with expertise in Parkinson’s disease before starting any specific program.
Peripheral Neuropathy Any form of neuropathy can benefit from neurological physical therapy. Damaged nerve transmission and sensation changes means the connections from the brain to the muscles and skin are not as strong. Physical therapy works by retraining the brain, nerves, and muscles to utilize remaining connections and assists in finding new pathways. Neurorehab, coupled with manual therapy, allows the nerves to remain as healthy as possible by improving joint and tissue mobility for better blood flow and innervation. This treatment approach addresses multiple areas contributing to neuropathy to improve muscle function, balance and safety.
Stroke Improving movement and function through forced use builds a strong and balanced body for clients with a history of Stroke or TIA. Consistent and focused interventions to decrease compensations and reinforce optimal movement patterns are vital to remain independent, functional and safe.