Help for people living with Parkinson’s Disease
Help for people living with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative condition that belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, resulting from a loss of dopamine-producing brain receptors causing progressive damage to the brain and affecting the nervous system. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks.
The condition usually affects people over the age of 60, where early symptoms are often subtle and gradually increase, however for some people the condition can progresses more quickly and may also produce a number of other physical and psychological symptoms such as depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problem, anosmis (a loss of sense of smell), insomnia (sleeping difficulties) and memory problems.
The condition can be difficult to diagnose accurately as there are no blood or laboratory tests that are proven to help determine this. Usually a diagnosis is based on a patient’s medical history and a neurological examination (for some patients a brain scan may be required).
Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, treatments are available on the NHS to help alleviate the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible, which include:
- Brain surgery (in some cases)
- Supportive treatments (such as physiotherapy and other occupational therapies).
Not everyone with the condition needs treatment during it’s early stages, however regular appointments with a medical specialist is highly recommended to monitor the condition.
As most people know, conventional medicine focuses on understanding and correcting the problems that are causing symptoms, whereas complementary therapies (therapies that can be used alongside medical treatment) take a more holistic approach, aiming to treat the whole person including mind, body and spirit, rather than just the symptoms.
Although no treatments or therapies have been scientifically proven to slow, stop or reverse the development of Parkinson’s, there are several complimentary therapies that can make living with Parkinson’s disease easier and have been said to have helped many people living with the condition on a day-to-day basis.
Some of the most popular therapies chosen by people with Parkinson’s and their carers include:
Meditation and relaxation techniques
The best advice to anyone diagnosed with this condition is to start exercising as soon as possible. It is known that Physicians rarely refer their patients to health and fitness programs at diagnosis because medications are very effective early on at alleviating most of the symptoms and patients experience little change in function. Yet, research shows that it is at the time of diagnosis that patients often begin to consider lifestyle changes and seek education about conventional and complementary/alternative treatment options. This makes it the ideal time for referrals to exercise, wellness programs and physical/occupational therapy, when it may have the most impact on quality of life.
At Physiologic we provide an array of therapy treatments from the recommended list above and can offer a specially dedicated exercise treatment programme called LSVT BIG® for people with Parkinson’s disease. This is based on the principle that the brain can learn and change (neuroplasticity).
Formulated from an existing programme called the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) which was started in the United States and has been developed and scientifically researched over the past 25 years, with funding from the National Institutes for Health and LSVT LOUD® which is the effective treatment created to help patients with their speech, that improves vocal loudness by stimulating the muscles of the voice box (larynx) and speech mechanism through exercises, improving respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function to increase speech clarity.
LSVT BIG® is an intensive amplitude focused, physical and occupational therapy approach applied to limb movement that has been documented to be effective in the short term, increasing amplitude of limb and body movement (bigness), trunk rotation/gait), improved speed (upper/lower limbs), balance and enhancing the quality of life for people with Parkinson disease. In addition, people were able to maintain these improvements when challenged with a dual task. It is a standardized treatment practice that is customised to the individual goals of each patient
This unique therapy programme consists of 16 treatment sessions over a single month (4 X 60 minute sessions per week) with daily homework practice and exercises. The programme can only be delivered by certified physical or occupational therapists.
At Physiologic we are proud to welcome Cary Morin who recently immigrated from the US where he was born and raised. He studied in North Carolina, receiving a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2016. He trained and worked in Acute Care and Outpatient Care and worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland, the United States’ largest and most renowned military medical centre. Cary specialises in treating musculoskeletal needs and is well educated on Parkinson’s disease. He is one of only three therapists based in the Kent region, certified to deliver LSVT BIG® treatment programmes and he hopes to expand the awareness and accessibility of this treatment here in the UK.