A regular exercise program, customized to meet the needs of individuals with movement disorders, should be a key component in any comprehensive treatment plan for people living with Parkinson's disease.
Guidelines to optimize benefits from regular exercise routine:
- Take 5 minutes to "warm up" prior to performing any exercises. This may consist of gentle stretching, walking in place or marching legs while seated etc. This encourages blood flow to the muscles and helps prevent injuries.
- Plan to exercise for a minimum of 15-20 minutes per day.
- Perform each exercise to its full potential. Maximum effort = maximum result
- Allow 4-5 days at a given level of repetition of a movement before increasing the repetitions. This may seem slow, but will give muscles time to adjust to new demands.
- Stretching is crucial to flexibility. The same stretches performed prior to an exercise routine can be repeated after the series.
- At the end of each exercise session, close your eyes for 5 minutes, relax, and practice deep breathing. Imagine yourself strong, flexible and energized. Last but not least, congratulate yourself for taking charge of your life and your health.
Stretching exercise is helpful in following:
- Increase range of motion for improved joint mobility
- Helps maintain and/or improve posture
- Decreases the risk of muscle tissue injury
- Improves circulation
- Releases muscle tension associated with stress
Strengthening of muscles prevent joint pain and facilitate an erect posture. Using light weights to add resistance in a regular program of strengthening results in the muscles and bones becoming stronger.
Occupational therapy is a newer allied health profession that has much to offer people with movement disorders. Occupational therapist evaluates muscle tone, range of motion, fine and gross motor control, balance and coordination. Evaluation by an occupational therapist is indicated for the following needs:
- To evaluate and treat persistent problems with changing positions, getting in and out of bed etc.
- When seeking advice for modifying your work station or home setting to maximize safety and efficiency.
- When functional limitations are causing difficulties performing independent activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, dressing, bathing and handwriting.
- To recommend and teach the use of appropriate adaptive equipment.
To maximize the benefits of physical and occupational therapy for people with Parkinson's disease, it is important that the therapist understand some basic tenets of Parkinson's disease and geriatric rehabilitation.