Parkinson’s Disease is thought to affect around 1 in 350 adults, which means there are an estimated 145,000 people in the UK with the condition. It can lead to slowness in movement (bradykinesia), tremor and rigidity. This can cause postural changes, reduced balance and difficulties with mobility.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and co-ordinate body movements. With the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells, this part of the brain is unable to work normally, causing symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.
Physiotherapy can help with this. The benefits of physiotherapy for those with Parkinson’s is widely recognised. The 2017 NICE guidance for Parkinson’s Disease in adults recommends referring people who are in the early stages of the disease to a physiotherapist with experience of Parkinson’s disease for assessment, education and advice, including information about physical activity. Additionally it recommends offering Parkinson’s disease-specific physiotherapy for people who are experiencing balance or motor function problems.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt to new information, with neurons and neural networks in the brain to changing their connections and behavior accordingly. There is a growing body of evidence that exercise causes positive neuroplastic changes in the brains of those with Parkinson’s Disease.
A significant component of physiotherapy is exercise. Doing 2.5 hours of exercise a week can slow the progression of symptoms. Exercise can help manage physical symptoms along with other symptoms such as sleep problems, fatigue, mood and mental health. It can be as important as medication to help take control and manage symptoms. (Parkinson’s UK)
Access to specialised Physiotherapy can be limited. An audit from Parkinson’s UK in 2017 found that only 16.8% of individuals had been referred to physiotherapy at diagnosis and only 52% of individuals had received physiotherapy input within two years of diagnosis.
At Heads Up Neuro Rehab, we are experienced in working with individuals with Parkinson’s and can provide specialist guidance and support at all stages of Parkinson’s. The time we are able to offer enables us to fully understand our patients’ needs and to provide individualised rehabilitation and maintenance programmes. We will assess your posture, muscle strength, balance and gait (walking pattern) and supply a combination of ‘hands on’ treatment, self management advice and exercise.
If you or someone you know feels that you could benefit from our service, please get in touch.