Unlocking Movement: Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s Patients

Unlocking Movement: Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s Patients

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and balance problems among other symptoms. As the condition progresses, patients can find even basic movements challenging. Physiotherapy emerges as a beacon of hope for many, offering an array of exercises and techniques to manage symptoms, improve mobility, and enhance the quality of life. In this blog, we’ll delve into the profound role physiotherapy plays in the life of a Parkinson’s patient, the techniques employed, and the benefits one can expect.

What Is The Physiotherapy Assessment Of a Parkinson’s Patient?

What Is The Physiotherapy Assessment Of a Parkinson's Patient?Physiotherapy assessment of a Parkinson’s patient is a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s physical abilities, limitations, and needs in the context of their Parkinson’s disease (PD). The assessment aims to identify areas affected by PD, tailor a treatment plan to improve mobility and function, and recommend interventions to prevent potential complications.

Here’s a breakdown of the key components of the assessment:

Patient History

  • Onset and duration of PD.
  • Medical history including medications, surgeries, and other relevant conditions.
  • Patient’s main concerns and goals.
  • Family history, especially if related to neurological disorders.
  • Functional challenges in daily activities.

Observational Assessment

  • Posture: Look for a stooped posture, a forward head, and rounded shoulders.
  • Gait: Observe for shuffling, reduced arm swing, freezing episodes, etc.
  • Tremors: Note presence, type, and severity.
  • Facial expression: Observing for decreased blinking or reduced facial movement.

Neuromuscular Examination

  • Muscle strength.
  • Muscle tone: Parkinson’s patients often exhibit rigidity.
  • Reflexes.
  • Coordination and balance tests.
  • Sensory tests, if relevant.

Functional Assessment

  • Mobility: Getting in and out of bed, chair, etc.
  • Walking assessment including turning and dual-tasking.
  • Transfers: e.g., bed to chair, standing up from sitting.
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, grooming, and bathing.

Special Tests

These might include:

  • Berg Balance Scale: To assess the risk of falling.
  • Timed Up and Go Test: A quick test to assess mobility.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire (PDQ-39): Measures health status and quality of life in Parkinson’s patients.

Joint Assessment

  • Range of motion of the major joints.
  • Presence of pain or discomfort in any joint.

Goal Setting

Discuss the patient’s goals for therapy. This can range from improving walking abilities to performing specific tasks independently.

The findings from the physiotherapy assessment of a Parkinson’s patient are then used to create an individualized treatment plan, tailored to address the specific needs and goals of the patient. Regular re-assessments are crucial to track progress, adjust treatments as necessary, and ensure that the interventions remain effective as the disease progresses.

What Are Some Techniques In Parkinson’s Physiotherapy?

What Are Some Techniques In Parkinson’s Physiotherapy?Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the management of Parkinson’s disease (PD) by addressing the movement challenges faced by patients. The specific interventions chosen depend on the severity of the symptoms, the stage of the disease, and the individual’s goals and needs. Here are some physiotherapy techniques commonly used for Parkinson’s patients:

1. Gait Training

  • Cueing Techniques: Visual (e.g., laser pointers, lines on the floor), auditory (e.g., metronome beats, rhythmic clapping), and tactile cues can help improve stride length and overcome freezing episodes.
  • Dual-task training: Practicing walking while doing another task, like talking or carrying an object, to enhance multitasking abilities.

2. Balance and Coordination Training

  • Exercises on varied surfaces (e.g., foam, uneven ground) to challenge and enhance balance.
  • Use of equipment like balance pads, Bosu balls, and wobble boards.
  • Tai Chi and yoga can also be beneficial for balance and coordination.

3. Functional Mobility Exercises

  • Training for specific tasks like getting in and out of bed, standing up from a chair, or turning in bed.
  • Repetitive practice of activities of daily living (ADLs) to improve independence.

4. Aerobic Exercise

Activities like walking, cycling, or aquatic exercises to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall well-being.

5. Parkinson’s-Specific Exercise Programs

Programs such as LSVT BIG, use amplitude-based exercises to improve movement quality and bigness.

6. Postural Training

  • Exercises and strategies to combat the stooped posture commonly seen in PD.
  • Activities that promote spinal extension and scapular retraction.

7. Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help reduce muscle rigidity and manage stress.

8. Manual Techniques

  • Soft tissue mobilization or massage to reduce muscle tension.
  • Joint mobilizations to improve joint mobility.

9. Equipment and Assistive Device Training

  • Training with walking aids like canes or walkers, if needed.
  • Use of orthotics or footwear modifications.

Regular physiotherapy sessions can make a significant difference in the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients. It’s essential that any therapy or exercise regime be tailored to the individual’s needs and be conducted under the guidance of a qualified physiotherapist familiar with Parkinson’s disease.

What Type Of Exercise Is Best For Parkinson’s?

What Type Of Exercise Is Best For Parkinson's?Certainly! One of the exercises that has garnered attention for its benefits in Parkinson’s disease is Boxing. While it might seem unconventional, non-contact boxing has shown promise in addressing various Parkinson’s symptoms.

Boxing emphasizes agility, hand-eye coordination, footwork, rapid directional changes, and aerobic conditioning – all of which can benefit those with Parkinson’s. The sport demands a combination of balance, coordination, strength, and endurance.

Instructions for a Basic Boxing Routine:

Warm-Up (10 minutes)

  • Begin with a general warm-up: March in place, then gradually increase to a light jog.
  • Incorporate arm circles, shoulder rolls, and gentle trunk rotations.
  • Perform toe-taps and heel digs to activate the lower limbs.

Shadow Boxing (15 minutes)

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly in front of the other (a boxer’s stance).
  • Make fists with both hands, keeping them up by your face (guard position).
  • Start with simple jabs, throwing your front hand straight out in front of you.
  • Incorporate cross punches with your rear hand.
  • Add hooks – a punch thrown in a semi-circular motion.
  • Mix in uppercuts – a vertical punch moving upwards.
  • As you get comfortable, move around while you punch, maintaining a light bounce in your step.

Heavy Bag Work (if available, 10 minutes)

  • Use the punches learned in shadowboxing.
  • Start with combination punches: Jab, cross, hook.
  • Ensure to maintain your guard when not punching.

Cool Down (10 minutes)

  • Slow down your pace, shifting from jogging to walking.
  • Incorporate deep breathing exercises.
  • Finish with stretches focusing on major muscle groups.

Boxing not only helps improve the physical symptoms associated with Parkinson’s but also provides a sense of empowerment, boosts self-esteem, and offers an opportunity for social interaction, which can play a crucial role in overall well-being.

What Are The Benefits Of Choosing Parkinson’s Physiotherapy?

Parkinson’s physiotherapy, specifically tailored to address the unique challenges of Parkinson’s disease (PD), offers a myriad of benefits. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Improved Mobility: Physiotherapy addresses gait abnormalities and freezing episodes, helping patients walk more smoothly and confidently.
  2. Enhanced Balance and Reduced Fall Risk: Balance training and exercises reduce the risk of falls, a common and often dangerous concern in Parkinson’s.
  3. Increased Muscle Strength and Endurance: Resistance and endurance training help combat muscle weakness. Eventually, it enhances functional capacity.
  4. Reduced Muscle Rigidity and Stiffness: Stretching routines and specific exercises help counteract the muscle rigidity that often accompanies PD. And, promoting better movement and reducing discomfort.
  5. Improved Coordination: Through targeted exercises, patients can regain better hand-eye coordination and motor control.
  6. Optimized Functional Independence: By practicing and improving activities of daily living (e.g., dressing, eating, and turning in bed), patients maintain a higher level of independence for longer.
  7. Enhanced Posture: Postural training counteracts the stooped posture often seen in PD, leading to improved aesthetics, reduced pain, and better lung function.
  8. Mental and Emotional Well-being: Regular exercise is known to release endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. This can help combat depression and anxiety, which are common in PD.
  9. Improved Quality of Life: By addressing movement challenges and offering strategies to cope, physiotherapy empowers patients to participate more fully in daily activities, social events, and hobbies.
  10. Better Sleep: Physical activity can improve sleep patterns, addressing insomnia. This is a frequent issue for those with Parkinson’s.

Engaging in physiotherapy offers a proactive approach to managing Parkinson’s disease. It’s essential, however, that the therapy is guided by professionals trained in neurologic physiotherapy. This will help to ensure that interventions are both safe and effective.


Physiotherapy offers a beacon of hope and a path to improved quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Through tailored exercises and interventions, patients can address many of the debilitating symptoms of PD, from muscle rigidity to balance issues. The myriad benefits, ranging from enhanced mobility and posture to boosted emotional well-being, underscore the vital role of physiotherapy in holistic Parkinson’s care.

By fostering independence and empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools to manage their condition, physiotherapy stands as an indispensable ally in the journey through Parkinson’s disease. Physical Therapy helps patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back, Shoulder, Knee, Neck, Elbow, Hip, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.