Physical Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease

Physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease has an important place in the general treatment concept. Parkinson’s disease causes distinctive posture and movement disorders. With physical therapy and rehabilitation, improvements in mobility, muscle strength and balance can be achieved in Parkinson’s patients, and as a result, the person can be helped to be independent in their activities. Aerobic exercises help maintain heart and lung capacity. Exercising can prevent depression or help it heal. Special physical therapy methods are available for speech and swallowing problems. Exercises to improve memory for the brain are another dimension of Parkinson’s rehabilitation.

muscle strengthening

Muscles tend to weaken with age. For this reason, regular exercise is an activity recommended for everyone so that the muscles do not melt. Muscle strengthening exercises become even more important in Parkinson’s disease. Exercises to strengthen the arms and legs, using small dumbbells or elastic bands, and movements to strengthen the trunk and abdominal muscles are performed in the physical therapy of Parkinson’s disease. In-water exercises in the pool can be preferred for muscle strengthening with movements made against the resistance of the water without straining the joints too much, depending on the body weight being supported by the buoyancy of the water.

Increasing the range of motion

Another type of exercise used in Parkinson’s disease is amplitude exercises. Amplitude is used here to mean the amplitude or width of movement. In Parkinson’s disease, a progressive shortening of the range of motion, called hypokinesia, is seen. For example, the person’s stride distance is shortened, and when he wants to extend his arm, he cannot open it all the way. Amplitude exercises that include exaggerated movements such as taking long steps and reaching forward can be beneficial to reduce these problems.

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maintain the rhythm of movement

Reciprocal movements are movements made from side to side or diagonally from right to left. For example, while extending the right foot forward, the left arm moves forward while walking, while keeping the right arm and left leg behind is a reciprocal movement. In Parkinson’s disease, reciprocal movements are impaired. The natural rhythm of movements can be restored by methods such as walking exercises, recumbent exercise bike, elliptical, dance, Tai Chi, which concentrate on the reciprocal movements of the arms. Random practice exercises, in which the tempo, direction and type of movements are changed, are useful for Parkinson’s patients to maintain their normal movement pattern. Since people with Parkinson’s have difficulty in moving from one movement to another and performing different movements at the same time, exercises that will improve them are applied.

Stretching movements

Shortening of the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh, the gastrocnemius muscles in the calf, and the hip flexors is a common problem in Parkinson’s patients. As a result of the contraction and shortening of these muscles, the person can get used to a stance with the hips and knees bent, the flexibility of movement decreases and the balance can be disturbed. Stretching and stretching movements are useful in increasing the flexibility of shortened tense muscles. These movements are more effective if they are done more than once a day, that is, with frequent repetitions.

increase balance

To establish our balance, we integrate visual information with data from the balance organ in the ear and joint position sense. Balance disorder occurs in Parkinson’s disease. This increases the risk of falling. Falls can cause various problems such as head trauma, bone fractures, soft tissue injuries. Due to the fear of falling, there may be reluctance to go out and go to crowded places. These problems can be reduced with exercises for walking and balance.

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Occupational therapy – Occupational therapy

With occupational therapy or ergotherapy, special exercise practices are performed to help the individual be independent in daily life activities. For example, specific exercises for activities such as sitting, standing, using the toilet and bathroom, dressing, eating and preparing food can be done within the scope of occupational therapy.

Speech and swallowing therapy

Parkinson’s disease can cause speech and swallowing disorders, as well as symptoms such as tremors and slowed movements. For example, problems such as speaking in a low voice and the pronunciation of words may be impaired. In Parkinson’s disease, non-verbal communication is also adversely affected due to the freezing of facial expressions and the expressionlessness of the face. Even though the patient is not like that, when viewed from the outside, it may seem indifferent or angry. As with other muscles of the body, there may be tremor, stiffness, slowness and difficulty in swallowing in the muscles associated with swallowing. With speech and swallowing therapy, solutions are produced for these problems.

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