What is Physical therapy (PT)?
Physical therapy helps movement and muscular strength. A physical therapist evaluates and treats problems related to mobility, motor control, and musculoskeletal conditions. The goals of PT are to maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout life. Physical therapists are specially trained with a masters or doctorate degree and are required to pass a state licensure examination prior to practicing. Physical Therapists are required 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years to maintain their state license.
How is it different from a physical trainer?
A physical or exercise trainer undergoes training to develop an exercise program to maintain health and wellness. Some trainers have completed specialty training to work with chronic illness but does not necessarily have extensive college level training in body physiology and anatomy. An exercise trainer can help you continue an exercise program developed for you by a physical therapist. This can be especially helpful for people that do ‘well in therapy’ but then have trouble staying motivated to continue the exercises at home. More information on physical trainers is available on this web site.
How can PT help people with PD?
Physical therapy can help people newly diagnosed through providing education and guidance on a home program. Later in the disease PT can assist with fall prevention or improvement in walking and mobility.
How can I find a physical therapist in my area? The easiest way to find local PT services or to learn more about PT is through the American Physical Therapy Association at http://www.apta.org. You may also find it helpful to talk with your neurologist and get recommendations other people with Parkinson’s. A support group might be a good place to start. Finally, call your local hospital’s rehabilitation department to inquire about therapists that have special training or interest in brain conditions such as Parkinson’s.
Author: Ann Zylstra, PT is the lead therapist at the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care Center and the outpatient rehabilitation manager at Evergreen Hospital Department of Rehabilitation in Kirkland. “My philosophy is every individual I meet is unique, with different needs and concerns. Practicing physical therapy is not following a cook book but more designing the recipe for success with each individual I meet. I believe strongly in ‘use it or lose it’ ”!