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Managing Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.

Both men and women can have Parkinson’s disease. However, the disease affects about 50% more men than women.

Treating the symptoms

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you already know that unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. However, there are ways to treat the symptoms to help people living with PD maintain as much function as possible.

“Treatment for each person with Parkinson’s is based on his or her symptoms, and may include medication and, later, surgical therapy,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. “There are many medications available to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, although none yet that reverse the effects of the disease. Other treatments include lifestyle modifications, like getting more rest and exercise.”

At CPT, we use physical therapy to help people living with PD manage their symptoms, including helping them avoid falls and the resulting complications. Our work with Parkinson’s patients includes:

  • Learning new walking techniques, including foot placement, foot movement, and arm movements.
  • Using assistive and self-help devices to promote independence, such as wearables, walking aids, voice amplifiers, and adapted household items.
  • Making a daily exercise plan.
  • Rotational and rhythmic activities and movement like karate or tai chi.
  • Slow stretching movement like yoga.
  • LSVT LOUD® speech therapy and LSVT BIG® treatment for physical movement, provided by certified practitioners.

Dietary guidelines

Managing dietary intake is an important part of living with Parkinson’s. At CPT we encourage Parkinson’s patients to follow these dietary guidelines, with their doctor’s oversight:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
    • Small, frequent meals to prevent exhaustion
    • Consume enough calories to prevent weight loss
    • Plenty of fiber to prevent constipation
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink up to 2,000 ml of fluids per day, unless contraindicated

Maintaining your emotional well-being

As your doctor will advise, it’s also important to engage to the best of your abilities in social activities, hobbies, and the like to help maintain your emotional as well as your physical well-being. And be sure to get sufficient rest throughout the day.

“It is possible to have a good to great quality of life with PD,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. At CPT, we’re here to help guide you with the physical therapy and healthy lifestyle choices you need to keep thriving.