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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Did you know there were Physical Therapists who specialize in Parkinson’s Disease?

An Interview with Dr. Liz Yates Horton, owner of Engage.

So often I am asked about helping people with their sports related injury. My response is that I can get you started but I am not the best fit, as I am a neurological physical therapist. Most people do not know that physical therapists, just like physicians, can specialize.

This is usually met with confusion and I explain that if you have a neurological condition like Parkinson’s, a stroke, dizziness/ vestibular issue, to name a few I am here to help! If you are a college athlete rehabbing a knee or shoulder, let me find you an orthopedic focused colleague who is better equipped to help you.

I have had the opportunity to become a board certified neurological specialist in physical therapy. Many people ask me how I achieved this. The road to specialization can include a residency program, sitting for a board examination, many hours going to conferences and continuing education. When a physical therapist chooses to specialize it is typically because of a true passion. Those that specialize also typically stay engaged in their field through teaching, research, continuing education, and community outreach.

When working with a neuro focused physical therapist, their approach to your care will also be tailored to help you get back to living your best life. So often when I meet someone with Parkinson’s for our initial assessment my first question is not about their medical history (we do cover that), or what they can’t do, it is about what they want to get back to doing and their goals. There is so much research to support the importance of exercise with PD, but if you aren’t doing activities that you enjoy doing or you do not feel are helping you reach your goals, guess what you probably will find it pretty boring. How many exercise plans have you started and fallen off the wagon because they were boring or not working towards your goals? You are not alone.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you don’t use it you lose it”? Or this one “ If you use it you improve it”? These two sayings are what I find so exciting about neuro PT. By engaging your brain in activities, you enjoy doing we can make real change. This gives us the opportunities to think outside of the box to create a customized plan for you.

You may be wondering how exactly a neuro PT can help. You may be thinking back on previous PT experiences where you go in for your appointment and do your exercises and then hopefully do some exercises at home. PT with a neuro therapist can be different and you may be surprised at the common daily tasks we can help improve.

In the winter do you struggle getting your winter coat on? A combination of exercises, movement strategies, and clothing suggestions can help!

Is it feel like work to get out of your car? We can help to build your strength and develop strategies that help you not feel like it is work.

Do you feel like it is a battle to get in / out of bed or to get re-positioned in bed? Does it feel like you are fighting your sheets and getting all tangled up? PD can impact your core strength and flexibility which are key to winning the battle over your bed. We can develop specific tips and tricks to help you not feel so tired getting out of bed.

These are just a couple examples of how neuro PTs can help. Another aspect that makes neuro PTs different is that we welcome working with other members of your team. We recognize that we are part of your action plan along with others such as your neurologist, occupational therapy, speech therapy, neuro-ophthalmologist, and nutritionist.

Please contact our office at 315-810-2423 or with any questions about how we may be able to help you! Here at Engage, we work collaboratively to help you receive the care you need to help you live your best life.

How to find a Physical Therapist that specializes in Parkinson’s.

1. Parkinson Wellness Recovery:

3. Find a Neuro PT with their Neurological Clinical Specialization:

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