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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Parkinson's Disease

Wellness 360

Q.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

A.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain.  These dying neurons produce dopamine.  Dopamine is a chemcial messenger that controls movement and coordination.  Decreased dopamine can leave a person unable to control movement normally. 

Q.

What are the primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease?

A.

Motor signs include:

  • Tremor.  

    • Tremors are typically noticed in one side of the body when muscles are relaxed. Tremors are most noted in the hand, foot, jaw, or face. Tremor can be exacerbated by stress. Not all Parkinson's diagnosed have tremors. 

  • Slowness of Movement

    • Bradykinesia means slow movement. Steps are short and shuffling. Bradykinesia can decrease the range of motion. It can also affect speech, making it quieter and less distinct.  

  • Rigidity

    • Can cause stiffness and inflexibility of neck limbs and trunk. Rigidity can be painful. 

  • Postural instability

    • People with the PD diagnosis can tend to topple backward due to postural instability. The tendency to sway backwards happens when standing, in the sit-to-stand transfer, or turning. Pivoting or making quick movements can pose difficulties.  

  • Freezing of gait

    • People with PD can sometimes hesitate when stepping forward. Freezing is temporary and the person can complete normal strides once they get past the first step. Freezing can occur when starting to walk, pivoting, crossing a threshold or doorway, or approaching a chair.  

  • Micrographia

    • Shrinkage in handwriting.

  • Mask-like expression

    • A person with the PD diagnosis may appear less expressive in their facial features.

Q.

What are the primary non-motor signs of Parkinson’s disease?

A.

The primary non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's include, but are not limited to loss of sense of smell, constipation, mood and sleep disorders, and orthostatic hypotension.

Q.

What is the correlation between Parkinson’s disease and Shoulder Pain?

A.

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among those with Parkinson’s disease. This occurs when the muscles in our chest and neck become overused and tight, and our upper/middle back muscles aren’t properly utilized. This can lead to poor posture and cause “impingement” or pinching of tendons in your shoulder joint, which causes pain. This can happen to anyone, but it is even more common with Parkinson’s due to the chest muscles being most likely to become rigid and the subsequent poor posture associated with Parkinson’s disease. Physical therapists are trained to provide corrective exercises to stretch and strengthen the correct muscles to decrease this pain. For more information on shoulder pain and its relation to Parkinson’s disease, click HERE

Q.

What type of exercise is best for people with Parkinson’s disease?

A.

The most current research says that 150 minutes/week (2 ½ hours) of forced intensity exercise (exercise that pushes you harder than you would normally push yourself) or activity involving “new movements” (movements that are difficult or not part of everyday activities). This can be done in as small as 15-20 minute sessions throughout the week, or an hour at a time in an exercise class. The physical therapists at Wellness 360 are certified in PWR exercises, Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery, that are specifically designed to address Parkinson’s specific symptoms. Wellness 360 also offers multiple exercise classes that are specific to Parkinson’s disease including Rock Steady Boxing, Parkinson’s Cycle, Dance for Parkinson’s, and more. For more information, click HERE

Q.

Can stress worsen Parkinson’s disease symptoms?

A.

Stress can come in both positive and negative events.  Stress does not cause PD; however, stress can worsen symptoms.  These increased symptoms are temporary and will resolve after the stress is relieved.  

Q.

What should I expect from my Parkinson's physical therapy evaluation?

A.

Physical therapy uses objective testing as a tool that physical therapists use to measure how a person’s movements are affected by Parkinson’s disease. We know that PD can cause balance, gait, posture, and strength issues. We also know that not everyone is affected in the same way. The testing done by a specialized PT will help you know where you have deficits and how to set a plan of action specific to you! If you would like to learn more about physical therapy evaluatory testing, please click HERE.

Q.

Are there dietary changes I should make after my Parkinson's diagnosis?

A.

Is there an appropriate way of eating for patients with Parkinson's disease? The answer is Yes and No; because what nutritionally benefits one person may not help another. We are all individuals, and disease affects us all differently. However, there are some similarities and things to try and see what helps you. Click HERE to learn more.

If you would like to learn healthy dietary changes you can make with the Parkinson's diagnosis, please click HERE. 

Q.

Can physical therapy help with my Parkinson's diagnosis? 

A.

At Wellness 360, we have specialized staff with additional training in Parkinson's disease.  Specialized treatments are needed to improve your Parkinson's symptoms, manage your disease, decrease the progression of the disease, and improve functional strength and independence.  Starting with one-on-one treatment is a great way to be evaluated and get individualized treatments.  Once you have established your goals and worked toward your goals, you can transition into one of our specialty Parkinson's classes for life-long disease management. 

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