Which physiotherapy treatment is right for you?

PD in Practice

Author: Tom OwenPublished: 7 April 2015

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Tai Chi is one of the most versatile therapies for people with Parkinson’s, according to new guidelines created by a body of physiotherapy professionals

The European Physiotherapy Guidelines for Parkinson’s Disease have been launched to help ensure that PwPs receive the best possible care from their physiotherapists. The move also recognises the fact that as physiotherapy becomes more common in the treatment of Parkinson’s, it’s essential that it is being deployed in the best possible way.

The writers of the report, which was a joint production by 19 physiotherapy associations, stress that the document is not a ‘recipe book’ for effective care, but rather a tool to help physiotherapists ensure people with Parkinson’s to make the best possible decisions about their treatment.

Which treatments for which symptoms?

Some of the most interesting pages of the document are the recommended treatments for different aspects of Parkinson’s. The different physical therapies available to people with Parkinson’s are matched with the symptoms for which they are most beneficial. Recommendations range from a weak recommendation against, to a strong recommendation for. 

For issues around balance, the report suggests Tai Chi as being beneficial for both functional mobility and avoiding falls, while using a treadmill is recommended for patients experiencing problems with gait; particularly stride length and walking speed.

Ta Chi was a popular recommendation. The guidelines suggest it is beneficial for physical capacity, as well as for movement functions.

According to the guidelines, tango dancing is a good option for those PwPs who are struggling with balance, but it is recommended against for people experiencing problems with their gait.

Collaboration and communication

The guidelines also stress the importance of physiotherapy as one facet of a multi-disciplinary approach to Parkinson’s care. The fact that Parkinson’s is such a variable disease, which manifests in different ways for each individual, means there can be “as many as 19 health professions and institutions involved in care for people with Parkinson’s disease” – so effective collaboration is vitally important.

One of the aims of the document is to establish good communications between all those involved in managing the disease. This is echoed by PwPs, who want more collaboration between their treatment teams.

The document also stresses the importance of patient-centred care, which is “associated with greater well-being and physical functioning,” and “entails providing ‘care that is respectful of and responsive to individual PwP preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that PwP values guide all clinical decisions.’”

You can download the full guidelines, which contain extensive advice for therapists, as well as information for PwPs at www.parkinsonnet.info.

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