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Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience changes in their voice or speech, changes in swallowing and cognitive impairment. We provide speech-language pathology and physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients.

What to Expect From Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s

We offer physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients to help:

  • Increase strength, endurance, movement and control
  • Improve flexibility, gait and balance
  • Address freezing and fall prevention
  • Develop a daily exercise regimen to keep a person mobile
  • Customize a home exercise program to improve mobility problems and prevent or reduce the impact of future anticipated problems
  • Educate and involve the caregiver to help at home with functional activities such as bathtub transfers, getting in/out of chair or bed
  • Educate the patient and caregiver and implement adopted LSVT Big exercises

What to Expect From Speech-Language Pathology for Parkinson’s

Changes in Voice or Speech: A speech impairment is called a dysarthria. These changes may include having a mono pitch, decreased loudness, variable rate of speech and decreased articulatory precision. Additionally, the vocal quality may be breathy and/or hoarse.

The recognized treatment for this disorder is the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) protocol. This is a four- or eight-week program depending on frequency of visits that targets improving the loudness and clarity of speech by participating in repetitive exercises.

Changes in Swallowing: A swallowing impairment is called dysphagia. Symptoms may include drooling, having a wet or gurgly voice, coughing/throat clearing/choking when eating or drinking, feeling food stuck in the throat, and having a type of pneumonia attributable to swallowing deficits called aspiration pneumonia.

Treatment is focused on improving the strength and speed of movement of the swallowing musculature. A patient’s diet may also need to be modified to improve safety. The patient will also be trained in swallowing strategies to optimize safety.

Cognitive Impairment: Cognitive impairment is a common non-motor complaint of people with Parkinson’s. Changes may be seen in the person’s attention, organization, memory, visual spatial skills and language.

Therapy focuses on providing the person with compensatory strategies to manage these deficits, family training to optimize independence, as well as exercises of increasing complexity to remediate the deficits if possible.

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