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  • Joel J. Digris, MSPT, Owner Achieva Rehabilitation

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease and the Benefits of In-Home Physical Therapy with Achieva Rehabilitation

physical therapist working with a woman with parkinson's disease

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a progressive, chronic neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Dopamine is a crucial chemical that helps regulate body movements, affecting the speed, quality, fluency, and ease of movement.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by the breakdown or damage of nerve cells, specifically those that produce dopamine. This leads to a range of motor and non-motor symptoms, which can significantly impact an individual's quality of life.

Motor Symptoms:

  • Tremors: Often start on one side of the body, usually in the hand or foot, and are typically resting tremors. Internal tremors, where it feels like you are shaking inside, can also occur.

  • Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement.

  • Akinesia: Lack of movement.

  • Hypokinesia: Reduced size of movements.

  • Rigidity: Muscle stiffness.

  • Freezing: Sudden, temporary inability to move.

Non-Motor Symptoms:

  • Emotional Issues: Anxiety, depression, which can begin before motor symptoms appear.

  • Hallucinations: Visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, or gustatory, often as a side effect of medication.

  • Cognitive and Memory Issues: Changes in executive function, confusion, difficulty with word finding.

  • Fatigue: Exacerbated by the physical effort required to manage symptoms.

  • Sleep Problems: Including insomnia and restless sleep.

  • Apathy: Lack of interest or motivation.

  • Numbness or Tingling: Sensory changes.

How is Parkinson’s Diagnosed?

Parkinson’s is most often diagnosed based on a patient’s reported symptoms and medical history. Many patients only receive a diagnosis after the disease has progressed, often recognizing early signs in retrospect such as foot cramps, small handwriting, decreased arm swing, shoulder pain, depression, sleep problems, and constipation. There are no specific tests or imaging techniques that definitively diagnose Parkinson’s Disease.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. These may include exposure to pesticides, a history of head trauma, environmental toxins, genetic predisposition, and lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and smoking or drinking habits.

Who is Affected?

Parkinson’s Disease affects about 1.5 to 2% of people over the age of 60, with men being 50% more likely to develop the disease than women. It is rare for individuals under 50, accounting for only about 4% of cases.

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Early Stage: Symptoms affect one side of the body, with decreased stride length or arm swing, muscle fatigue, hand coordination issues, reduced shoulder movement, changes in facial expressions, and small handwriting.

  • Mid Stage: Symptoms affect both sides of the body, with quiet speech, mild swallowing issues, bent-over posture, shuffled walking, and dyskinesia (involuntary movements).

  • Late Stage: Balance problems, increased shuffling and freezing, significant speech and swallowing difficulties, drooling, and body rigidity.

The Role of Exercise in Managing Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise is vital for managing Parkinson’s Disease. It helps improve mobility, balance, and overall physical function while also enhancing mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Regular exercise can slow the progression of motor symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Achieva Rehabilitation’s In-Home Physical Therapy Program

At Achieva Rehabilitation, we understand the unique challenges faced by individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Our in-home physical therapy program is designed to provide the perfect combination of personalized care and effective exercise routines to help manage symptoms and maintain independence. Here’s why our program stands out:

Personalized Care: Our therapists conduct one-on-one sessions in the comfort of your home, tailoring each exercise routine to your specific needs and capabilities.

Expert Guidance: Our team is experienced in the latest techniques and research related to Parkinson’s Disease, providing expert guidance and support.

Convenience: In-home therapy eliminates the need for travel, ensuring consistent care without added stress.

Comprehensive Exercise Plans: We focus on strength training, balance exercises, cardiovascular workouts, and flexibility exercises to address all aspects of Parkinson’s Disease.

Support and Motivation: Our therapists provide both physical and emotional support, helping you stay motivated and achieve your goals.

For more insights and exercise demonstrations, visit our YouTube channel.

At Achieva Rehabilitation, we believe in the power of in-home physical therapy to make a significant difference in the lives of those with Parkinson’s Disease. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one stay active and independent.

More great information on Parkinson's Disease and exercise:


Click HERE for more info about the Achieva Rehabilitation In-Home Physical Therapy Program


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