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How to determine whether physical therapy will benefit a patient with Parkinson's Disease

This is an excerpt from Health Professionals' Guide to the Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease by Miriam Boelen.

Can Therapy Help Me?

A person with Parkinson's who answers yes to any of these questions should obtain a referral from his or her doctor for the appropriate therapist. The patient should check with the insurance company to ensure coverage and make an appointment with a therapist who is knowledgeable about Parkinson's.

Physical Therapy

  • Do you experience difficulties with moving in bed or getting out of a chair?
  • Do you feel unsteady while standing, walking, or turning?
  • Are you stopping yourself from being more active because you feel unsteady?
  • Is it difficult for you to catch your balance?
  • Have you fallen or have you experienced great difficulty in getting up from the floor?
  • Do your feet tend to stutter or stick to the ground?
  • Do you want to learn how to stay in optimal shape?

Occupational Therapy

  • Are you having problems with your handwriting?
  • Do you have trouble using utensils when eating?
  • Do you have difficulty or require assistance with bathing or dressing?
  • Are you fearful or unsteady when stepping in or out of your tub or getting on or off your toilet?
  • Have you had any falls in your home?
  • Do you have difficulty engaging in your favorite leisure activities or hobbies?

Speech Therapy

  • Have you had recurring pneumonia or chest congestion?
  • Do you cough or clear your throat when you are eating?
  • Do you feel food or pills getting stuck in your throat?
  • Do you have problems with drooling?
  • Do you require extra time to eat, or does food get stuck in your mouth or cheeks?
  • Do people ask you to repeat yourself or speak up?
  • Have you noticed that you are mumbling, have a soft voice, or speak in monotone?
  • Have you noticed problems with your memory?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating?

From M. Boelen, 2009, Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics). Reprinted, by permission, from J. Holt.