What do your Physical Therapist and your Dentist have in common?
Answer: You should see them every 6 months or earlier if something changes.
We stay on top of regular cleaning and see the dentist every 6 months to make sure your pearly whites are as healthy as they can be. The same should also be done with physical therapy and Parkinson’s.
The most effective way to work with a physical therapist is similar to the dental model. This starts with setting up a proactive plan (hopefully as soon as you are diagnosed with PD) with a physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s. During this initial time, your physical therapist will focus on research-based strategies to maximize your movement so you are living your best life. They will help you set up a program, focused on your specific needs, to help you stay moving and grooving.
During this time, they will also get baseline assessments for how you are moving. These tests can include standing balance, walking speed, coordination, strength, endurance, fine motor/dexterity. They may do tests in areas that you do not have any difficulties in. This is to get a baseline.
Once you have a plan established, this can be progressed to regular checkups to assess your function. This allows you and your physical therapist to track how you are doing. During these checkups, those same assessments that were performed when you first started will be repeated. This provides an apples to apples comparison of how you are doing and progressing.
So often people with PD feel that it is a progressive disease and that they won’t get better. One of the great things about these checkups is that they can show you are making improvements.
These assessments can also provide insight on how to best stay ahead of PD progression. They may be able to catch small changes in how you are moving that you make not have yet noticed. With this data, changes to your plan can be made specifically focused on these changes and your goals.
So often in physical therapy the focus is on fixing what is wrong with our bodies. The great part of working with a PD therapist is that you can work on preventing future issues and perform exercises and movements that you didn’t think was possible.