April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. During the month of April, the Parkinson's Foundation encourages the community to participate in one or more events to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and support further research to find a cure.
Approximately one million people in the United States and more than ten million people worldwide are living with PD. The cause of PD is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing PD. PD is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that slowly progresses over time. Symptoms include tremors, gait and balance problems, limb stiffness or rigidity, and slow muscle movement but vary person to person. How can a physical therapist help? Your physical therapist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to assess your posture, strength, endurance, flexibility, walking, balance, and coordination. Since PD affects each person differently, your physical therapist will work with you to create a specific treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and goals in order to keep you as independent as possible. Depending on the nature and severity of your condition, your treatment plan may focus on activities and education to help you:
● Improve strength, endurance, flexibility ● Develop efficient/effective strategies to get in/out of bed, chairs, cars ● Improve the smoothness and coordination of your walking ● Decrease your risk of falling ● Improve your ability to ascend and descend stairs and curbs ● Improve multitasking abilities ● Participate in activities that are important to you
The most effective treatment for PD is a balance between medication management and appropriate exercise. Some medications for PD are designed to improve motor symptoms. Your physical therapist will know how to time treatments, exercise, and activities based on both the schedule and effects of your medications to get the best results.