Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition where parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years. It is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the ‘substantia nigra’. It is not known what causes this, although experts think that genetic and environmental factors are responsible.
As these brain cells die, a chemical called dopamine is reduced in the brain. Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body, and its loss is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s Disease in the UK. Most people develop symptoms when they’re over 50, although some people can first experience symptoms when they’re under 40. Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson’s Disease than women. Although Parkinson’s is not life-threatening, the symptoms deteriorate over time and cause everyday difficulties for individuals, their families and carers.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Without dopamine, people experience a variety of symptoms at different stages:
Early stages – when movement-related symptoms are more prevalent, including:
- tremor or involuntary shaking, often in the hands
- slow movement
- rigid, stiff or inflexible muscles
- balance problems
These can cause changes to posture and problems with walking, sometimes resulting in falls.
Later stages – when thought processing, behavioural problems or psychological symptoms can occur including:
- depression and anxiety
- loss of sense of smell
- memory problems
How can neurological physiotherapy help with Parkinson’s Disease?
Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease is a life-changing event and many people living with the condition face difficulties and disabilities. Parkinson’s affects the way the brain functions to differing degrees, and produces a range of symptoms which are different for each person. However, the brain is very adaptable.
Our neurological physiotherapists are trained to understand the effects and interactions of Parkinson’s symptoms. They can identify where rehabilitation should be focused, and work on areas and problems that specifically affect the individual using targeted physiotherapy.
Ideally, physiotherapy should begin as soon as possible following your initial diagnosis to allow you to reach your full potential and limit the progression of your symptoms. However, months or even years after your diagnosis, physiotherapy can help you maintain your current lifestyle, prevent deterioration or help you make improvements.
At your Initial Assessment, we will perform a full and detailed analysis of your symptoms and suggest the most appropriate physio treatment to meet your goals.
The treatment may include:
- Stretches to maintain a good posture
- Exercises to maintain strength, coordination and balance
- Rehabilitation and strategies to maintain abilities with daily activities
- Exercises to improve walking
- Advice to family and carers
- Techniques to improve your daily activities, such as getting in and out of bed, standing up, and using the stairs
- Referral to other health professionals for equipment, medical support or targeted therapy such as speech and language, orthotics and nutrition.