Newly Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease? Create a support team.
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
When it comes to treating PD, remember that you are the center of the team and each of the team members play a role in helping you live your best life! You are not alone on this path. It is important to start putting together your dream team. You want to choose individuals who actively listen and who are knowledgeable about PD. Your care partner is also an important part of the team.
Here are some team members you may work with during your journey with PD:
Neurologist or Movement Disorder Specialist: This is a doctor who you will meet with periodically to assess medications and your treatment plan. What’s the difference between a neurologist and a movement disorder specialist? A movement disorder specialist has specialized training in treating Parkinson's Disease. This doctor does not substitute for your regular family physician.
Physical therapist: There is strong evidence to support the benefits of exercise in helping to manage PD. PT can help with teaching you the most effective exercises for coping with movement problems, increasing flexibility, decreasing pain and building strength. LSVT BIG and PWR! are two 2 treatments focused on improving movement in people with PD. Finding a PT who specializes in one of these treatments is beneficial.
Occupational therapist: OT can help you to maintain your independence in activities of daily living and problem solve any safety concerns you may have in your home or community, including driving. OTs also trained in treatments such as LSVT BIG/PWR!
Speech therapist: SLP can help with improving your voice quality/loudness and assess and treat swallowing issues. Speech therapists are also able to help develop strategies for any memory concerns. Two treatments that are PD focused are LSVT LOUD and Speak Out!. Finding a SLP who specializes in one of these treatments will help you find someone who understands PD.
Dietician: A dietician or nutritionist can assist with developing a food plan specific to your needs with PD. They can help to improve your gut health which can help with constipation, help you to get enough protein daily, and focus on the foods that will help you feel your best.
Neuropsychologists: This is a specialized therapist who can evaluate your memory and thinking skills.
Opthalmalogist: There can be changes with your vision with Parkinson's. If you are noticing any changes or difficulty with your eye sight it is time to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist who specializes in neurological issues.
Mental Health Specialist: Depression and anxiety are common with Parkinson's. Mental health specialists can work with you to manage stressful times and create healthy habits for stress management.