NWPF

Assemble Your Team

A comprehensive care approach goes beyond treating movement and non-movement related symptoms of PD. It aims to work “outside the box” to reduce disability, maintain independence, promote healing and enhance safety. 

Why do I need a team?

j0406772 (1)Members of the treatment team concentrate on all aspects of your needs:

  • movement
  • ability with daily activities
  • communication and social needs
  • success in relationships
  • self- awareness
  • emotional health
  • wellness
  • socialization and recreation.

Counseling, education and support are an important function of each team member, and comprehensive care is enhanced when you, the patient, take an active role in your care. This combination of individual initiative and group concern givew you the tools to do your best, strengthen hope, and deal with life changes, daily frustrations or new challenges. 

Who is on the team? 

Your own comprehensive care team may vary depending on your resources, personal needs, age and disease stage.  

  • You and your family are the most important members of the team.  
  • Medical-primary care doctor, Neurologist, Psychiatrist, physician assistants, nurses
  • Emotional and mental health- Social workers, counselors, psychologists or neuropsychologists
  • Rehabilitation- physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists.  
  • Creative therapists in art, music and recreation also play an important role, and some teams include . 

Don’t limit your team to medical specialists. You may find helpful healing professionals in your community that add a new dimension to wellness- focusing on your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Examples of community specialists include:

  • exercise trainers yoga instructors, Tai chi instructors
  • massage therapists
  • acupuncturist
  • spiritual advisors and
  • Mind-body and meditation specialists
  • Reiki, therapeutic healing

Don’t forget about support groups since your peers can offer valuable experience and support.

How do you find a team?

You may have a medical center that specializes in Parkinson’s care in your community. If you do not, you can still assemble your own team. Avoid making this an overwhelming task. Begin by prioritizing your problems or concerns and search for a specialist that can address those issues.

  • The  Comprehensive Care Worksheet will help you identify rehabilitation specialists that can help with your problems.
  • Check your insurance carrier as there is a wide variation in coverage for rehabilitation, behavioral health, acupuncture, and nutrition services.
  • Ask your peers, support group memebers for of people inyour area.
  • National foundations such as the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, American Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and National Parkinson’s Foundation can help you find a specialist in your area. 
  • Finally a call to your local hospital may connect you with rehabilitation therapists that have experience treating neurologic conditions.
Helpful tip

The Comprehensive Care Worksheet (print from link below) can help you identify medical therapists that can help you with your needs. You may wish to share this worksheet with your physician so they understand why you are asking for a specific referral.  It is sometimes helpful to prioritize your problems and begin with one referral at a time. 

For instance, if you are interested in seeing physical therapy to start an exercise problem but also note a more serious problem- your speech difficulties are interfering with your job as a sales person. Focus on the more urgent problem. Begin with a visit to the speech therapist if your busy life makes it difficult to do everything at once. Ask your speech therapist to review other problems you may have and the worksheet with you to help you with your decision to include other therapists.

Use this checklist to Assemble your Medical Team

 

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Medical Director, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation