Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that causes a decrease in the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger that helps initiate and control movement. While the exact cause is unknown, genetics and environmental exposure are thought to play roles. Common signs and symptoms include bradykinesia (slowed movement), muscular stiffness and rigidity, tremor, stooped posture, shuffling gait, smaller handwriting, and speech changes. As you can see, many of the above signs are motor symptoms that can be addressed with physical therapy and exercise.
Research proves that exercise, combined with medication, is the best way to combat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff can provide exercises, education, and resources so that our patients with Parkinson’s disease can live their best lives.
Because each case of Parkinson’s presents slightly differently, each approach to treatment will be uniquely tailored to your individualized needs. We can help someone with an early diagnosis and minimal symptoms establish an exercise program that can be carried out at home or in a gym. We can help develop strategies to decrease instances of shuffling and freezing gait. Our expansive clinic allows us to work on daily tasks such as walking, turning, and negotiating stairs as well as simulate more challenging tasks like walking in small spaces such as your bathroom, navigating crowded areas like grocery stores, carrying items, and negotiating obstacles one may face in the community. We also focus on fall prevention and fall recovery.
The therapists at The Gait Center have relationships with a variety of community resources so that we can help our patients establish a plan after discharge from physical therapy to continue making progress. Our partners include Rock Steady Boxing Richmond, local Parkinson’s programs at the YMCA, and the Parkinson’s Dance Project. Feel free to ask us about these resources and others!