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Physical Therapy for Individuals with Parkinson's Disease: A Paradigm Shift

By Beth Fisher, Ph.D., P.T., and Jeanine Yip, D.P.T.

The benefit of physical therapy and general forms of exercise in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been recognized for years.

However, the traditional approach to physical therapy intervention for people with PD has been focused on teaching patients compensatory strategies to bypass the basal ganglia pathology. The use of external cues and cognitive strategies have been considered the practitioner's main training options. Thus, individuals with PD are instructed to consciously process movement information such as thinking about swinging the arms or taking large steps. In addition, the physical demands of many of the exercise protocols have been low to moderate in intensity. The goal of therapy has been largely to help people maintain what motor capability they have for as long as possible and to help them adjust as their functional level inevitably declines. This traditional approach to physical therapy intervention, i.e., teaching compensation for motor deficits, stems from the assumption that in the case of a neurodegenerative process such as that seen in PD, there is no potential for neurological recovery.

This assumption has been challenged by the demonstration of activity-dependent behavioral recovery, neurorestoration and neuroprotection associated with intensive physical training in animal models of PD.

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Dynamic is the smartest choice for your physical therapy care.

At Dynamic Physical Therapy, our physical therapists are the most experienced and educated in physical therapy treatments. We have six locations throughout Northern Michigan in Cadillac, Manistee, Gaylord, Marion, Buckley and Traverse City. We are the most recommended Northern Michigan physical therapy center for back pain. We also specialize in neck pain, knee pain, arm pain and hand pain, and our physical therapists and aides can help relieve your pain in the most effective way possible. For orthopedic treatment and aquatic therapy, rehab for sports related injuries like shoulder injuries and foot injuries, physical therapy for Cerebral Palsy, stroke rehabilitation, therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and arthritis relief, and even jaw pain treatment, Dynamic Physical Therapy is the smartest choice for comprehensive physical therapy care and physical rehabiliation services.