Parkinson's disease is a prevalent degenerative disorder affecting adults’ brains. Anyone can be affected by the disease. It increases your risk of sustaining injuries and falling since it impacts your balance and movement. Treatment for Parkinson's disease could include physical therapy and medicines as part of management care that could consist of other treatments and community-based exercises. Some patients require surgical treatment to regain some bodily functionalities.

You can partner with a skilled physical therapist in Las Vegas to manage your symptoms, maintain a good fitness level, and remain active. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we have movement experts who can take you through therapies that will improve the quality of your life.

An Overview of Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a result of lost dopamine-producing nerves in the human brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that works with other chemicals to create balance in the body. When these nerve cells are lost or impacted, the body loses control of movement, decision-making, thought processes, moods, and similar behaviors.

Medical doctors do not know the actual cause of Parkinson's disease. However, they talk of contributing factors like aging, family history, and exposure to some toxins, which could trigger its onset. The condition is chronically degenerative, which means it worsens over time. But it is not usually fatal.

The symptoms and severity of Parkinson's disease vary from one patient to the next. Some patients have lived with the condition for over twenty years. These people experience a reduced decline in their thinking and mobility over time. Other patients experience quick progression of the symptoms, whereby they experience issues with their thought processes and movement within the first years of having the disease.

Its Signs and Symptoms

In the beginning, Parkinson's disease was considered only a movement or motor disease. However, after more research was conducted, it was also seen to cause non-movement-related symptoms that impact other systems within the body. These non-movement-related symptoms can even develop long before you experience the motor symptoms. They include the following:

  • Sleep problems
  • Reduced smelling ability
  • Lightheadedness, especially when standing up

Movement-related symptoms of Parkinson's disease often start when you are around 60 years of age. However, some people experience an early onset of the disease when they are much younger than that. Some of the motor- or movement-related symptoms include:

  • Stiff or rigid joints and muscles
  • Shaking or tremors in your limbs and hands
  • Reduced movement
  • Balance issues

In most cases, motor symptoms start mildly and progress with time.

For example, you can first experience tremors in one limb, especially when resting. Tremors can also happen in your jaw or legs when resting and disappear when you start moving. Mainly, they do not interfere with your daily activities. But as the disease progresses, you will likely experience other motor-related symptoms, like:

  • Your movements become smaller, causing you to shuffle as you walk, reduce swinging of arms when walking, and your voice becomes quieter.
  • Stiff or rigid muscles, making you uncomfortable around your trunk, neck, and shoulders
  • You experience pain in the muscles due to stiffness or rigidity
  • Your posture becomes unstable, causing you a balance problem and increasing your falling risk
  • Your movement becomes slower, affecting your daily activities like showering, moving in or out of bed, and dressing
  • You could feel as if you are stuck in one position on the floor, making it a challenge to take a step or turn around
  • Your posture becomes stooped
  • You have difficulties using a regular voice when talking
  • Problems when swallowing
  • Problems performing some tasks that you could efficiently perform before, including playing golf, tennis, or even gardening
  • Difficulties changing facial expressions
  • Problems releasing or holding urine (bladder incontinence and urgency)

Other non-motor symptoms that you could experience once the disease starts progressing include:

  • Inability to pay attention to a particular task for more than a few minutes
  • Inability to divide attention when handling two or several tasks
  • Lost motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems

How Doctors Diagnose Parkinson's Disease

Doctors perform a series of tests to diagnose Parkinson's disease. A single test cannot produce definitive results to indicate that you have the disease. Sometimes, it can be challenging to diagnose. That is why doctors conduct a neurological exam and consider your medical record and other tests to determine whether you have the condition. If you have been undergoing physical therapy and your therapist suspects Parkinson's disease, they can send you to a specialist (neurologist) for tests and a more conclusive diagnosis.

The neurologist will likely make a Parkinson's diagnosis if you have the following:

  • If your movement has slowed
  • If you experience tremors or shaking of your feet and hands when resting
  • If your muscles have become stiff or rigid around your legs, arms, or trunk
  • If you experience balance problems and have fallen once or a couple of times
  • You experience relief in some symptoms when you take medicine to manage Parkinson's disease
  • The initial symptoms started on one part of your body

How a Physical Therapist Can Help With Parkinson's Disease

Remember that Parkinson's disease affects people differently. Thus, your physical therapist’s approach will depend on your symptoms and how much the disease has progressed. When you engage a physical therapist, they will work alongside you, your family, and your healthcare providers to assist you in managing the disease as the condition worsens. Thus, looking for a skilled physical therapist immediately after your diagnosis is necessary. The therapist will perform an independent evaluation to test the following:

  • Your strength
  • Posture
  • Walking
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Attention to movement

The therapist will use the test results to develop a personalized treatment plan to meet your goals and needs. The program will keep you independent and active.

A physical therapist will work closely with you every day to assist you in maintaining the ability and strength to do the following:

  • To move around your house and within the community
  • To perform basic everyday tasks
  • To participate in physical activities and sports

Your therapist will also develop an all-inclusive exercise program to match your specific goals and stage of Parkinson's disease. They will also teach you the techniques and exercises to assist you in managing your symptoms and reducing the rate at which your physical condition declines due to the disease. Here are some of the things your therapist can assist you with:

  • Improve your bodily function, including balance, waking, and lowering your risk of falling
  • Recover some of the functions you have lost to the condition, injury, or fall
  • Maintain proper physical function for the longest time possible

All this while, your physical therapist will focus on the nature and gravity of the disease to develop activities that will help you achieve the following:

  • Improved strength, flexibility, and fitness level
  • Better strategies to sit, stand, and move in or out of bed and cars
  • Improved ability to stand, turn, and efficiently change directions
  • Improved coordination and smoothness when walking
  • Reduced risk of falling
  • Improved ability to quickly gesture with your hands
  • The ability to go up and down stairs or curbs
  • The ability to efficiently perform more tasks simultaneously

Your physical therapist will include several activities to achieve the desired results in your program. Some of these activities are:

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises are cardiovascular exercises you perform from a moderate to a high intensity. They are very effective in slowing down the declining physical condition associated with Parkinson's disease. Your physical therapist will initiate aerobic exercises early in the disease's onset.

Resistant Training

These exercises are necessary to build strength in all your muscle groups. Progressive-resistant training can significantly reduce the gravity of motor-related symptoms. It can also improve your power and strength.

Balance Training

Your therapist can take you through standing exercises, agility training, and complex walking to improve your balance, mobility, and gait.

Flexibility Training

Parkinson's disease affects your flexibility, but your therapist can recommend a series of exercises that will help enhance your motion.

Gait Training

Skilled physical therapists recommend particular cueing techniques to help with your freezing gait. Gait training will improve your walking endurance, speed, mobility, balance, and stride length.

Task-Specific Exercises

Your therapist will also design programs to help enhance your performance in crucial activities like standing from a sitting position, turning, rising from a lower position like the floor, and vital daily tasks.

Movement Cueing

The physical therapist can develop a program to help provide auditory, visual, or technology-related guidance and feedback with your walking or other specific movements that can improve your balance and gait results.

Integrated Care

If you are experiencing more non-motor and motor problems, your therapist can engage other team members who will address different life aspects.

Behavior Changes

They will also advise you on exact behavior changes that could improve your physical activity, safety when performing everyday tasks, and life quality.

Community-Based Physical Activities

An experienced physical therapist is aware and can recommend exercise programs and other opportunities within your community that you can join to improve your movement, non-motor symptoms, functioning ability, and life quality. Your therapist will identify and recommend some exercise classes you can join, depending on the severity of the disease and the symptoms you experience.

Other Advantages of Working With a Physical Therapist

Instead of relying only on medication to treat or manage Parkinson’s disease, working with a physical therapist can significantly improve your situation. Here are other benefits to consider when deciding to hire one:

  • Improved mental health, particularly your mood and cognition
  • An opportunity to understand more about Parkinson’s disease and all the techniques you can employ to adapt to the changes it brings to your life
  • An opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life despite suffering from a severe degenerative disease

Parkinson’s disease affects your performance in daily activities. It can be very frustrating, especially when it takes you a longer time to do something straightforward before the disease. In addition to medical treatment, you can engage the services of a physical therapist to assist you and your loved ones in managing the symptoms and related difficulties. As the condition worsens, the therapist can adjust the treatment plan to assist you in remaining active and independent.

For some patients with Parkinson’s, a walker or cane helps them move around better. A physical therapist evaluates your condition first to determine the devices that could work in your situation. If you require assistance standing from a chair or moving out of bed, your therapist will work closely with you and your loved ones to devise strategies to make it easier for you to move without sustaining an injury. They could also recommend changing some aspects of your environment to make it safer and allow you to perform tasks more efficiently.

Remember that physical therapy is recommended alongside medication to manage Parkinson’s disease. Your therapist can also administer some medicine to help improve some of your symptoms and give you a better feeling as the disease progresses. Your movement can improve significantly after taking some medication. An experienced physical therapist knows the type of medicine to give, when, and the exercises and activities to include in your treatment program for the best possible results.

Can You Prevent Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a mystery to most doctors to date. Nobody knows its actual cause or whether or not you can prevent it. However, the good news is that you can improve your quality of life by participating in regular exercise and remaining active throughout. Since the disease primarily affects your physical abilities, everyday physical activities can help improve the following aspects of your life:

  • The way you walk
  • Your balance
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Mental health
  • Fitness

You will likely lose what you achieved through regular exercise once the fitness program ends. Thus, you must engage a skilled physical therapist to ensure that you have a long-term fitness program in place. Your improved mobility will remain steady even as the disease progresses.

Additionally, you can partner with other people experiencing the same symptoms as you through community-based programs for people with Parkinson’s disease. Your therapist can provide a list of classes that can benefit you. Connecting with people with similar issues as yours also encourages you to keep working hard to enjoy a better quality of life.

The Type of Physical Therapist to Choose

Physical therapy is crucial for people with Parkinson’s disease. Choosing a physical therapist to walk the challenging journey ensures you enjoy quality services. Fortunately, physical therapists are trained professionals. They are first trained on handling various needs, including the symptoms you are experiencing with Parkinson’s disease. The therapist you choose must have the proper training and experience, as these will enable them to perform their duties effectively. Here are some of the factors that will guide you to the right physical therapist for the job:

Experience in Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Even with the proper training and knowledge, some professionals improve through experience. Hiring a therapist who has handled patients with similar symptoms is advisable. If they have experience handling neurological disorders, they can quickly understand your needs and develop a treatment plan to effectively alleviate some of your symptoms. Choose a therapist who has experience handling neurological-related issues.

With Board Certification

A board certification means a physical therapist has met all the board requirements to operate within a particular jurisdiction. Physical therapists working without a certificate offer illegal services. You must be wary of those. Physical therapists obtain board certification after completing their training. They must complete a fellowship or residency in neurological physical therapy to be given a certificate to offer their services to clients. Choosing a certified therapist means you will enjoy quality services since they have advanced skills, experience, and knowledge in handling your problem.

If you suspect you have Parkinson’s disease or have recently received a diagnosis, it could be time to look for a physical therapist near you. Fortunately, specialists like these advertise their services online. You can search online and narrow your search to your location with the specific credentials you need from a physical therapist. Ensure you read reviews of all the physical therapists you find before contacting them for their services.

Alternatively, you can use other strategies to find a reliable physical therapist near you. For example, you can seek recommendations from friends, colleagues, family members, or healthcare providers. Once you have a suggestion, ensure you ask them about their skills and experience in treating people with Parkinson’s disease. Also, ensure you explain your condition in detail and any concerns you have with your condition and expected treatment. Your physical therapist must understand your goals before developing a treatment plan.

Find an Experienced Physical Therapist Near Me

Parkinson’s disease affects your movement and ability to perform crucial everyday tasks like dressing and standing from a sitting position. It can be very frustrating since your symptoms worsen with time. However, physical therapy is tested and proven to help alleviate some symptoms and improve your physical abilities and general well-being. You can enjoy a good quality of life with Parkinson’s disease if you work closely with a physical therapist.

Our team at Suarez Physical Therapy has the training, experience, and knowledge to handle neurological-related symptoms. We have extensive experience handling patients with Parkinson’s disease. Thus, we could be the right team to partner with if you or your loved one need help managing the disease in Las Vegas. Call us at 702-368-6778 to learn more about the condition and our services.