I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. What does that mean for me?

Authored by Caitlin McDonald.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that occurs because of depletion of dopamine producing cells in the area of the brain called the basal ganglia. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and a reduction in this results in a reduction of movement and tremor, among other symptoms. Parkinson’s disease is progressive Disease and different signs and symptoms are seen at different stages.

What are the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

  • Changes in sense of smell
  • Small movements
  • Slow movements
  • Resting tremor
  • Rigidity
  • Weakness
  • Involuntary movements also known as dyskinesia
  • Difficulty starting movements or freezing, which can occur with walking for example

Other issues that are associated with Parkinson’s Disease may include depression, anxiety, apathy, cognitive impairment, mobility changes, reduced fitness and reduction in flexibility and balance and increase in falls.

Can Physiotherapy help me in the early stages of my diagnosis?

You have just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and you are in your 60’s and you are still working and perhaps still playing sport, you may be wondering if Physiotherapy can help you? Short answer, YES! You may only be noticing a tremor at times or that you have slowed down with your running but your Physiotherapist will be able to assess this and provide an evidence based exercise program aimed to keep you functioning at a high level for as long as possible. They will work with you to achieve your goals and keep you fit and active.

What about in the later stages?

Patients who are in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease will also benefit from Physiotherapy! We know that changes in the brain occur through neuroplasticity and movement can help drive this. Your Physiotherapist can prescribe exercises to work on your flexibility, muscle strength and balance to keep you on your feet. They can also help with walking aid prescription and will work very closely with other members of the team including your Occupational Therapist.

So what should you do?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease then I would recommend seeking advice from a Physiotherapist as soon as possible. At LifeCare Mandurah our Physiotherapist Caitlin has completed extra training in the assessment and management of patient’s living with Parkinson’s disease. She is available to assist you in setting and achieving your goals through exercise and mobility retraining. Caitlin is offering 1:1 consults as well as an exercise group for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Contact us on 9535 4644 to find out more.

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