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The Facts About Parkinson’s Disease

March 31, 2020

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or know someone who has, you likely know that there are many misunderstandings around the condition. That’s why we’d like to provide some clarity on what can be done.

Receiving a diagnosis of any kind can lead to all sorts of emotions. Each diagnosis seems to bring about thoughts or doubts about our future. An athlete with a torn ACL may feel she can no longer participate in sports. A patient who has had a stroke may think he will never walk again.

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is no exception. While some of the commonly held beliefs about this diagnosis are true, there are also many misconceptions about the disease.

Let’s discuss the truth about Parkinson’s and what we can do about it. Read on as Matt Coleman, physical therapist with Sports Plus in Dyersburg, shares some insight:

“Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder, so I won’t get better.” 
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder. This means that the disease progresses over time leading to a gradual decline in the quality and size of movement.

Similar to a GPS that has to recalibrate when we go off course, our brain requires “recalculating” to keep our movements normal. Typically with Parkinson’s disease, the movement that feels normal to the patient has become smaller than typical despite a normal effort given.

However, if normal effort produces a “too small” movement, then higher effort may produce a normal sized movement.

That’s why the statement “I won’t get better” is misleading. While the disease itself currently has no cure and we cannot slow the progression of the disease itself, your current function may well improve with daily exercises to help recalibrate your movement.

 “There aren’t any treatments for Parkinson’s disease.” 
There are treatments available for Parkinson’s and its effects. While there’s no cure, treatments can significantly improve how patients move today.

Treatment can include everything from medication to surgery, and one common form of treatment is physical therapy.

LSVT BIG® is a physical therapy treatment method including 16 treatment sessions—four visits per week for four weeks—for approximately one hour each session.

Some people are intimidated when they hear about the frequency, duration and intensity of this program. However, the exercises are tailored to each individual’s ability. Accommodations are made for painful movements, and exercises can be performed standing, seated, or lying down.

One of the most important factors with this exercise program is strong effort to drive movement. Knowing what a maximal movement feels like retrains our brain for what today’s normal movement feels like.

Myth: “It doesn’t matter if I give effort in therapy for Parkinson’s because it won’t change anything about my daily life.” 
Fact: One of the most important components of LSVT BIG is learning how to use those bigger, more normal movements with the things that matter most to the patient. We call these functional component tasks, carryover tasks and hierarchy tasks.

We practice functional, meaningful tasks, which are then carried over from one visit to the next to ensure patients are getting better. We work with you to accomplish your goals for normal movement.

Functional mobility can be maintained even as Parkinson’s disease progresses into its later stages. While it is always best to start treatments early after diagnosis, it is never too late to start.

While in some ways we are incredibly fragile, we were also made with an incredible ability to heal and adapt. Parkinson’s is currently not a disease for which we have the ability to heal.

However, we have learned some incredible ways to adapt and maintain functional mobility. Whatever drives you to keep moving, keep working hard, keep striving to stay active and don’t give up!

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Sports Plus Rehab Centers offer the comprehensive therapy you need. With 14 clinics across west Tennessee, Sports Plus is conveniently located close to you. If you would like more information on LSVT BIG Parkinson’s treatment please contact us at (731) 286-1115. Learn More about LSVT BIG here.