Supportive therapies

OverviewPhysiotherapyOccupational TherapySpeech Therapy
Due to the nature of Parkinson’s and the symptoms experienced, a PwP requires various other modalities of treatment along with medications. These therapies help in managing Parkinson’s and work on improving the overall quality of life. These therapies are provided by professionals and are trained to provide advice and exercises and treatments to keep a PwP active and healthy. Hence treatment in Parkinson’s requires a multidisciplinary approach.

The main therapies are listed below

Physiotherapy – This improves general health and fitness and is extremely helpful in reducing slowness in movement, stiffness, gait and balance difficulties.

Speech Therapy – This therapy focuses on improving the clarity and volume of speech and provides tips for better communication.

Occupational Therapy – Most PwPs have trouble in dressing up, eating, writing, personal hygiene, getting up from bed, car, chair etc. Through OT, they are taught to make certain changes and modifications which help them to perform these tasks with ease.

Diet and Nutrition – A dietician advises on a healthy diet and specific dietary needs. They can offer advice on how diet can ease some symptoms, such as constipation, etc. They may also liaise with a speech and language therapist regarding swallowing and eating difficulties. Important information is provided on how to enhance the effect of medication and what diet is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Browse our resources for Diet and Nutrition for Parkinson’s

Counseling / Psychotherapy – Several PwPs feel extremely sad and worried due to Parkinson’s or guilty and conscious. Through psychotherapy, these issues are discussed with the aim of enabling PwPs to accept their difficulties and improve the quality of their life through various means. While caring for their loved one with Parkinson’s, family members also face various difficulties. This therapy allows them to share their concerns and helps them realize that, along with caring for their loved one they also need to care for themselves.

Cognitive Rehabilitation – This mode of therapy provides tips and strategies to help address problems such as forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and paying attention, planning etc. Browse our resources for Cognitive exercises for Parkinson’s

Creative Therapies – This includes Art, Music, Dance & others. These therapies are a source of happiness and joy to many PwPs , as it helps them to express their emotions and feelings, including those of sadness and worry & brings about a feeling of a general sense of well – being. Dance and movement therapy (DMT) is now being incorporated with physiotherapy as a treatment regimen for improving movement related problems in Parkinson’s.

Physiotherapy comprises of exercises and strategies which help one feel better and move better. It also helps you perform your daily activities independently and safely.

Physiotherapists are trained to manage mobility problems including gait, posture, balance, transfers (e.g. getting in and out of bed or a chair) and dexterity.
How can physiotherapy help Parkinson’s?

  • A regular exercise routine can help
    – Strengthen muscles,
    – Increase movement in joints, body and limbs (arms, legs and trunk)
    – Improve flexibility, and
    – Build up general fitness and health.
  • Helps to maintain and improve balance and walking ability.
  • Daily activities like dressing, brushing teeth, eating, bathing, cooking etc can also improve with exercise.
  • Other non motor symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and constipation also improve with exercise.
  • Address freezing and fall prevention
  • Prevent secondary complications
  • Advice movement strategies (such as getting out of a chair or turning in bed etc), and help overcome side effects of medication.

Researchers believe that physiotherapy has the potential to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s by protecting the nerve cells that produce dopamine, thus, helping them work better and survive longer.

A few general recommendations before starting off on any exercise program include the following:

  • Normal exercises like walking, aerobics, stretching exercises should be performed daily.
  • One should start off with at least 15 minutes of exercise daily, and progressively increase it by 5 -10 minutes approximately.
  • Warm-up and cooling down exercises are very important. This could include marching in one place or stretching.
  • Start with the easiest exercises first. Slowly introduce the more difficult exercises as your fitness increases.
  • Try to perform each movement to the best of your ability.
  • Stop and rest if you feel tired at any point during your exercise program, as overexertion can make your symptoms worse.

A few Safety precautions PwPs should take include:

If you are at risk of falling or freezing (becoming rigid), general safety suggestions include:

  • Perform the exercises while sitting down.
  • Hold onto a chair when performing standing exercises.
  • Don’t perform floor exercises if you can’t get up by yourself.
  • Only exercise when other people are at home who can help if necessary.
  • Exercise with others if possible.
  • Ask for assistance from a family member or friend when needed.

Finding a physiotherapist
It is recommended that you start physiotherapy once you’re diagnosed with Parkinson’s. For more information contact your neurologist or local family physician. However, all individuals with Parkinson’s, regardless of the stage of the condition, can benefit from physiotherapy to help them maintain as much functional ability and physical mobility as possible

PDMDS holds physiotherapy sessions in our Support Centers. For more information visit our Support Center

Browse our resources for Physiotherapy exercises for Parkinson’s

Exercise should form an important part of your daily life, whatever may be the stage of your disease.

Occupational therapy promotes good health and well being by helping people regain their independence and adapt to disability.

Occupational Therapists are trained to help one adapt to the motor, cognitive and other impairments associated with Parkinson’s by providing special equipment and through the modification of the patient’s environment. This enables one to lead an independent and fulfilling life at home, at work and through leisure pursuits.

How can occupational therapy help Parkinson’s?

They can suggest practical aids to help you with various activities and ways to adapt your daily routine and surroundings, ensuring that your environment is safe and user-friendly. Also, empowering the person with Parkinson’s by allowing them to participate in everyday tasks reduces the pressure and stress often placed on their families and friends.

Finding an occupational therapist

It is recommended that you visit an occupational therapist when you are diagnosed and later after intervals. For more information contact your neurologist or local family physician.

Browse our resources for Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s

Speech and language therapists help people communicate to the best of their ability by assessing and treating speech, language and communication problems. They also treat people who have eating, swallowing and drooling problems.

How can Speech Therapy help Parkinson’s?

  • Providing exercises to improve communication on a one-to-one basis, or in a group setting
  • Advising on specific communication difficulties
  • Suggesting breathing and postural techniques to facilitate better voice and overall communication, ease chewing and swallowing difficulties etc.
  • Offering tips and strategies to make particular activities easier, such as talking on the telephone, eating etc.
  • Recommending special tools and equipment to aid communication
  • Assessing and treating difficulties with eating, drooling and swallowing
  • Advising caregiver’s on how to manage PwPs who have problems with speech and swallowing.

Finding a speech therapist

It is recommended that you visit a speech therapist when you are diagnosed even if you are not aware of any problems. For more information contact your neurologist or local family physician.

Browse our resources for Speech Therapy for Parkinson’s