Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease will affect your muscles and joints, they will cause the sufferer to move more slowly and feel weakness, tightness and pain in the joints and muscles. There is however a lot that can be done to alleviate these symptoms and assist a person to manage the condition. Physical, occupational and speech therapy can assist accordingly.
While physical therapy is not a cure for the disease it can help the patient to compensate for changes which the disease brings about, physical therapy entails the sufferer learning new techniques to help and improve movement by learning strategies and using equipment. Your physical therapist will be able to show you exercise routines which can be done in the home and which will help to both strengthen and loosen muscles.
The whole aim of physical therapy is to show you ways to help you to become more independent and improve your quality of life by relieving pain and improving function and movement of the muscles affected. Physical therapy not only deals with the issues you now have with your disease but it also used in the prevention of symptoms not yet shown, for example by establishing an exercise routine before rigidity symptoms show.
Physical therapy can help with the following:
- Problems occurring with the balance.
- A lack of co-ordination.
- Tiredness and fatigue.
- Pain in the muscles and joints.
- Decreased mobility.
How do I get physical therapy?
Usually your Doctor will refer you to the hospital which will have physical therapy services on an out patient basis, if you feel that you could benefit from therapy and your Doctor hasn’t mentioned it then don’t be afraid to ask outright.
How long does physical therapy last?
A programme in physical therapy will normally be around three visits; the first will be an evaluation of your condition to asses which exercises will be most beneficial to you. Following visits will be to check your program with the programme and refine it as necessary.
You may benefit from occupational therapy if the symptoms of your disease are stopping you from being productive at work or home, enjoying pastimes or hobbies or taking care of yourself.
How does occupational therapy help?
Your occupational therapist will normally make recommendations in the following areas:
- Offer handwriting aids.
- Provide modifications to your home.
- Offer arm and hand therapy.
- Make modifications to your vehicle.
- Make modifications to your workplace or equipment used within the workplace.
- Supply manual or electronic wheelchairs.
- Supply dressing and grooming aids.
- Supply bathtub aids.
Having difficulty in both speaking and swallowing are just two of the debilitating symptoms which are brought on by Parkinson’s disease, however they are two symptoms which if the patients attends speech therapy can be helped greatly.
Over the last few years advancements in this area of the disease have come forth and a new programme has been developed with the aim of helping those with dysarthria, which is difficulty in speaking and dysphagia which is difficulty in swallowing.
Tips for improving communications skills
Many sufferers of Parkinson’s find that the muscles in their voice box will weaken as the disease advances, when this happens they will have problems communicating finding it difficult to pronounce words correctly.
Here are some tips to help those suffering enhance their communication skills
- Try not to talk over any background noise such as the television or radio.
- Don’t rush when trying to speak, speak as slowly as you need to.
- Makes sure you talk in a room which is well lit so the person can see your face.
- Only use short phrases instead of long sentences.Make sure you rest before having long conversations, for example if you know you will be taking a long phone call or that you have friends coming over.
- Consider using an amplifier for your voice.
If people have difficulty understanding you then there are several things you could do to help improve the situation and make life easier on yourself and those around you.
- If you can write easily then have a notebook and pen handy and write down the things you are having difficulty in saying.
- If you cannot write easily then consider getting a white board and letters of the alphabet so that you can spell out words.
- Establish a topic before beginning a conversation.
- Use telegraphic speech and leave out any unnecessary words from the topic of conversation.
Think about using an assistive device
There are some devices which can greatly improve your communication skills, these are called assistive devices.
- A palatal lift – this is a piece of dental apparatus which is very similar to a retainer or brace, it works by lifting the soft palate which then stops the air from escaping out of the nose during speech.
- Amplification – the amplifier can help to reduce voice fatigue and also increase the level of the voice for those who are softly spoken.
- TTY telephone relay system – this is a specially adapted telephone which will allow the user to type what needs to be said and this in turn in relayed through and operator to the recipient.
- High tech electronic speech enhancers – these are usually computer aided devices with voice synthesizes in them.