For the approximately 1 million people in the U.S. living with Parkinson’s disease, studies show that just 2.5 hours of physical activity per week can slow their decline in quality of living.
This is a finding of the from the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, one of the largest-ever clinic studies of Parkinson’s disease – a study that involved more than 13,000 participants across five countries.
It is a conclusion that led the Parkinson’s Foundation to conclude that early referral to physical therapy and the encouragement of exercise is a crucial part of one’s overall Parkinson’s treatment.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.
What may start off as a mild tremor in one hand can progress into greater, more noticeable tremors. It often also evolves to include stiffness in the limbs, the slowing of movement, gait and balance problems, and difficulty talking.
An estimated 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year in the U.S. – mostly people over the age of 50.
While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s, a variety of treatments have shown to slow the its progress, relieve symptoms, and make it easier to live, move and function.
Physical therapy is one of these essential treatments.
How Physical Therapy & Exercise Helps
According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, regular exercise can help one manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It also helps sufferers improve several issues related to the disease, including walking, balance, tremors, stiffness, and motor coordination.
Exercise also helps the brain use dopamine more efficiently, which can lead to better mental health while improving mood, fatigue and sleep.
As the disease progresses differently for everyone, though – and since everyone has their own individual needs and goals – it’s essential you work with a physical therapist for personalized treatments and instruction when living with Parkinson’s.
For someone with Parkinson’s, the goal of physical therapy is to maintain and enhance one’s ability to move and function through all stages of the disease. And, as physical therapy often involves exercise instruction, the results may even delay the disease’s progression.
Following an initial assessment, a physical therapist can provide education, establish an individualized exercise regimen to help slow declines and improve quality of life, and establish treatments to specifically improve balance, gait, stiffness, pain, and the ability to function in everyday life.
When searching for a physical therapist who may be optimally equipped to help treat and manage a disease like Parkinson’s, look for those listed as having achieved a Neurologic Specialist Certification (NSC).
This NSC designation confirms that a physical therapist has achieved the education, experience and skillset to specifically and successfully treat neurologic disorders. This helps those suffering from stroke, brain or spinal cord injury, MS, Parkinson’s, and other neurological conditions to maintain a high level of function and independence.
And this, of course, improves overall quality of life.
Contact us for more information about how we may help you maintain a high quality of life through Parkinson’s disease or any other neurological disorder.