Parkinson's Disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease affects 1 person in every 500 and there are about 127,000 people in the UK with the condition at the moment.  Most people who get Parkinson's are aged 50 or over but one in 20 is under the age of 40.

Parkinson’s is a disease affecting a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, leading to a loss of a chemical called dopamine in the brain.  Dopamine is important in regulating movement which is why many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are disorders of movement.  

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

There are many symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, and everyone is affected differently, the main symptoms are listed below:

Bradykinesia  - This is slow movement, often typified by a shuffling walking pattern with very small steps.  Starting a movement can also be very difficult, a person may want to stand up but they are unable to initiate the movement and so become “stuck”.  
Tremors  - This is a rhythmical shaking that cannot be controlled, they usually start in the hand but can progress through the body into the arm and foot as the disease progresses.

Freezing - Some people find that they might suddenly stop walking and their feet feel like they are stuck to the ground, it can take several seconds for the movement to start again.  This can often happen when movement is interrupted or the environment changes – e.g. avoiding an object or passing through a door.

Falls and dizziness - It is quite common for people to fall as the disease progresses.

Changes to posture  - People with Parkinson’s Disease often become more flexed (bent forwards) as the disease progresses and their trunk becomes stiffer.

Speech and communication - This is as a result of the muscles in the face being affected by the disease.  People can find that their speech becomes much quieter and less intelligible.  Control of swallowing and saliva can become a problem. People’s faces can take on a mask like appearance.  It is difficult for them to change their facial expression so although they may be feeling happy they find it difficult to smile.  

Cognitive problems  - Many people experience cognitive problems such a reduced memory, anxiety and depression.  Parkinson’s Disease and the medication used to treat it can also cause hallucinations.


How can a neurological physiotherapist help with Parkinson’s Disease?

•    Exercises to strengthen muscles
•    Exercises to stretch and maintain flexibility
•    Improve balance and reduce falls
•    Teach how to get up if someone does fall
•    Strategies to help overcome freezing and difficulty initiating movement


Physiotherapy is very effective in treating the movement disorders associated with Parkinson’s Disease and can be helpful at any stage in the disease process.  Neurological physiotherapists have specialised training and experience in treating people with neurological problems such as Parkinson’s Disease.

I have lots of experience in treating people with Parkinson’s Disease and have successfully helped people to regain independence and mobility.  I work with people to achieve their own personal goals and am able to provide a comprehensive exercise programme for people to help them to maintain their fitness and strength.  I am very keen to try to help people to return to exercise that they enjoy and is meaningful to them.  

If you would like to know more, or think that I might be able to help you or a relative with any neurological condition please get in touch.