Physical therapy can play an important role in all stages of Parkinson's. This is also true early in disease even before symptoms of Parkinson’s are significant. Goals of PT early in disease include more than just symptom control:
1. Symptom Control - Improvement in PD motor symptoms such as rigidity, posture, speed of movement and balance
2. Neuro Re-education- 'Normalizing' complex patterns of movement associated with brain and biochemical changes of Parkinson's.
3. Minimize compensatory changes in movement, injury and 'bad habits' that can occur as motor control changes over time
4. Disease Modification- Prevention or delay of future symptoms such as imbalance through targeted exercise or exercise aimed at neuroplasticity (enhanced brain activity)
5. Nonmotor benefits- Improved mood, cognition, sleep, socialization, weight, fatigue, self-confidence, body image and self- empowerment that can result from exercise
6. Disease prevention- Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, dementia to name a few
7. Enhanced performance through health and fitness- Improved cardiovascular function, pulmonary function, strength and conditioning needed for enhanced motor performance
If you have seen a physical therapist early in disease, did you benefit in ways that were unexpected?