Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder affecting 1.5 million Americans.  Symptoms and progression vary from person to person, and may include tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability.  Parkinson’s disease reduces the ability to initiate a desired movement, as learned movement patterns are not occurring automatically.  Other automatic movements such as smiling or blinking may also be diminished or lost.

Many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from a lack of dopamine (a chemical messenger in the brain which controls movement).  The cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown, and there is no cure at this time.  There are, however, many different types of medications that can help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

For further information about Parkinson’s Disease, see our Neurology Library article about Parkinson’s Disease.

Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation

After a complete examination by a neurologist, physical and/or occupational therapy may be recommended as part of the overall treatment and management program.  During an initial visit, the therapist performs an evaluation and establish a treatment plan, in coordination with the neurologist’s plan of care.  Both OT and PT provide safety training, self-care and home management education, including education on fall prevention.  Home programs are often established to allow a person to continue performing exercises independently or with the assistance of caregivers for maintaining or further improving function.

OT & PT can be beneficial at all stages of Parkinson’s disease.  Early intervention is important.

MCN PD Physical Therapy

A physical therapy evaluation includes assessing gait (walking), balance, posture, general mobility, range of motion and strength.  Specific standardized tests may also be performed to help determine the risk of falling.  An individualized program will then be designed to maintain or increase flexibility, strength and endurance, walking ability, balance and coordination and posture.  The benefit of using an assistive device to increase safety is evaluated and determined.

Patients that are experiencing incontinence are referred for treatment to our Pelvic Floor Dysfunction rehabilitation program.

MCN PD Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapy evaluation includes assessing performance with activities of daily living (ADL), functional mobility (moving from place to place, such as in bathroom or kitchen), upper extremity strength, coordination, and cognition.  Treatment programs include education on use of compensatory techniques, such as use of adaptive equipment, to increase safety and independence with ADLs; strengthening and coordination activities; tremor management; and cognitive retraining activities.

While physical and occupational therapy can’t stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease, it can provide skills to help maintain or improve function and mobility to maximize independence in daily living activities.  Exercise is important for everyone, but it is essential for someone with Parkinson’s disease to help achieve and maintain the highest quality of life.