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Parkinson's Disease

Helping You Through Each Stage of the Disease

If you have Parkinson’s disease, or if you care for someone who does, you know that the symptoms can be either subtle or severe and may progress steadily or appear and disappear. Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, your doctor may recommend a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, including medications, nutrition, stress management, relaxation and exercise.

Rehabilitation therapy can be an important part of the mix, helping you to manage symptoms at each stage of the disease. This therapy can help patients:

  • Adapt to the disease’s primary effects, including reduced movement, tremors, postural instability and gait disturbances.
  • Reduce or prevent secondary effects, including muscle tightness and weakness from inactivity
  • Improve speech volume and clarity

Early Stage

During the early stage of the disease, before balance issues begin to arise, a person with Parkinson's disease may begin having difficulty initiating and completing movements through the full range of motion. Rehabilitative therapy (4 to 8 one-hour visits) may include the following:

  • Exercises, including general stretching, strengthening and balance exercises to improve posture and maintain muscle tone and fine motor skills.
  • Proactive strategies to help adapt to any movement difficulties as they arise

Middle Stage

When balance problems become more pronounced or walking becomes difficult, a more intense, supervised rehabilitation program (12 to 18 visits) may be recommended, tailored to the current limitations of the patient. This may involve:

  • Training in walking with supportive devices
  • Training to improve balance and prevent falls
  • Training in self-care and daily living activities using adaptive equipment
  • Strategies to temporarily reduce rigidity and to help break through “freezing” episodes
  • Training in mobility skills, such as getting in and out of bed and moving in and out of a car
  • Strength and flexibility exercises, including aquatics, with instructions for maintaining an exercise program at home
  • Specialized speech therapy
  • Strategies to cope with cognitive and swallowing difficulties 

Late Stage

Patients are considered to be in the later stage of Parkinson’s disease when they need assistance to move. Their physical and occupational therapy may continue, but caregivers may also learn techniques for safely assisting patients and providing comfortable care, including:

  • Safely lifting and transferring patients in and out of beds or chairs
  • Pulmonary hygiene and skin care
  • Prevention of secondary complications

Adaptive devices such as wheelchairs also may be prescribed.

The MidMichigan Difference

MidMichigan offers several advanced therapies specific to Parkinson’s patients:

MidMichigan offers Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT), one of the most recognized and effective treatments for speech disorders related to Parkinson’s disease. MidMichigan has one of only seven certified LSVT clinicians in the state.

Locations

Rehabilitation therapy for Parkinson’s patients is available on an outpatient basis in the following convenient MidMichigan locations:

  • Midland – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy,
  • Clare – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy (LSVT available)
  • Gladwin – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, regular aquatic therapy
  • Mt. Pleasant – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, regular aquatic therapy
  • Alma - aquatics availability