We know living with Parkinson's can be difficult. The disease is unique and can cause a large variety of symptoms. This is why we've created a page specially for you. Here you'll find information on how Parkinson's affects your mobility, and what you can do to help prevent a decline.
Scroll down to learn about what types of treatments you should be looking for, what physicians often don't have time to talk about, how our workshops might be helpful, and other services that can help you maintain your level of function over time. We are here to help you. Let's do this together!
Types of Treatments
When it comes to Parkinson's Disease, several research articles show that exercise is just as important as your medication. Although the medication is an important component of treating the condition, the best outcomes happen when you combine it with the right type of exercise. In physiotherapy, we can help you find the best type of exercise, specific to your symptoms, to help you maintain your mobility for as long as possible.
LSVT-BIG is a protocol developed specifically for people living with Parkinson's Disease. The LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) was initially developed to help a woman, living with Parkinson's, with her speech. Since then, the same theories have been applied to your movements, which became the LSVT-BIG. Research has been done using this protocol, and the results show that people improve their movements and maintain them over time. You need a certified physiotherapist to perform this treatment.
For best outcomes, it is better to be assessed early on, to prevent any decline in mobility that might occur. However, even if you are now unable to walk or using a wheelchair, it is never too late to improve to help you accomplish simple daily tasks.
There are different types of physiotherapy. When it comes to neurology you need someone who knows how the nervous system works. In most cases, your muscles are still strong and healthy. The issue lies within the brain.
It is not enough to simply strengthen your muscles. This would be the same as having the best cell phone, with poor reception. If the network has static, it doesn't matter what kind of phone you have, you still won't be able to make a call. If the pathways within your nervous system are not strong enough, it doesn't matter that your muscles are strong, you still won't be able to create enough movement. This is why people with Parkinson's Disease often experience smaller steps, or inability to initiate a step.
In neurology, physiotherapy targets the pathways in the brain, to strengthen the messages that are trying to get through. We use exaggeration, as well as other types of cues to help you amplify the signals coming from your brain.
The type of exercise that you do is important. When trying to strengthen pathways in the brain, you need to keep your exercises challenging and functional. In physiotherapy, we rarely prescribe standard strengthening exercises. All of our Home Exercise Programs include functional activities, like standing up from a toilet, putting your pants on or climbing the stairs. These are things that you do every day.
Your brain is most likely to remember how to recruit your muscles, if you practice during activities that are meaningful to you. We want to make the changes permanent, so we use activities that you enjoy in the clinic, and in your Home Exercise Program.
In order to make the brain understand which one is the correct pathway, it is important to practice them correctly, and often. Just like remembering a new phone number. You might choose to review it, to make sure you remember it correctly, then you will repeat it to yourself often to make sure that you don't forget it.
The same strategy applies to your movements. You need to make sure that you are recruiting the correct amount of muscles every time you perform an activity, like standing up from a chair. For this reason, the LSVT-BIG is structured with 4 visits per week. Alternatively, for those who aren't able to tolerate this much physical activity, we can design treatment plans with visits 2 to 3 times per week. Progress will be a little bit slower, but we should still see positive results.
The length of treatment has two components. First, the type of session, and second, the total length of the treatment plan.
There are three types of treatment sessions to choose from: regular treatment, complex treatment or LSVT-BIG protocol. In choosing the type of session, we will consider your goals, your tolerance to exercise and how many deficits we need to work on.
For your first treatment plan, we often suggest a duration of 4 weeks. This allows us to see how you progress and how you are doing with your Home Exercise Program. After these 4 weeks, you may choose to continue on your own, or to continue for another treatment plan, which can be for up to 12 weeks.
The duration of your treatment will be discussed with your physiotherapist on the day of your initial assessment. Depending on what the findings are, and what your goals are, you will talk about what type of session is more appropriate and how many weeks you should start with. You will have a chance to discuss whether the LSVT-BIG is a good option for you. Remember that this protocol is design with high intensity, and may not be suitable for everyone.
Exercise is Important!
What to expect from your neurologist (and what not to):
When you are first diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, you might not have a clue what that means. You likely went through a lot of testing to rule out other things, but still find yourself wondering if this is really what it is. There is no specific test to diagnose this condition. Your neurologist has likely made some recommendations for medication and you've likely had to try different doses, before finding what works best for you.
Here's some information that your neurologist won't discuss with you: Exercise is important! We know that Parkinson's causes dopamine levels to drop in the brain. This means that your body stops moving the way it is supposed to. People often experience pain in their joints, like their shoulders, knees and hips. This is the result of poor movements patterns, in the brain.
Exercise is very important to make sure that you continue to move with good patterns, to prevent the onset of pain and poor posture over time. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a physiotherapist who practices neurology. The important thing is that you keep yourself moving as much as possible for as long as possible.