What are Parkinson's Symptoms and How are they Treated

Published on April 27, 2021

Parkinson's

What are Parkinson's Symptoms and How are They Treated?

Nearly 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease (PD), and over 10 million worldwide. For April's Parkinson's Awareness month let's review the symptoms and treatments of the neurodegenerative disease to gain a better understanding and share with others.

Nearly 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disorder that affects a specific part of the brain and impacts a person’s movement mostly characterized by tremors and slowness. April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, a time dedicated to acknowledging individuals with PD and their caregivers, as well as spreading awareness of the disease among the general public.

Perhaps you have a family member or friend with Parkinson’s disease. This can be an opportunity to learn more and share information to help educate others on symptoms so they can better recognize them in their loved ones.

Parkinson's symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder that worsens over time. Symptoms that may become apparent in the early stages include a person's face may show little or no expression, arms may not swing when while walking, and speech may become soft or slurred.

Gradually common movement (motor) symptoms that appear include tremors or shaking, muscle stiffness and slowness, as well as gait and balance problems.

There are also non-motor symptoms that can be overlooked because they do not involve movement. Some examples include sleep problems, fatigue, depression or anxiety, gastrointestinal issues/constipation, and vision issues.

Parkinson's symptoms typically develop after age 50, but some people develop them much younger.

Parkinson's treatment

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, several treatments can make symptoms more manageable. Medications are the primary treatment to help control movement (motor) symptoms.

Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are also effective in helping to treat Parkinson’s. Physical therapists can help improve the person’s gait and provide a good exercise plan. Occupational therapy is helpful in maintaining fine motor (hand and finger) skills. Speech therapy helps to address speech and language changes that develop with Parkinson’s.

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation's Therapy Options for Parkinson’s Patients

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation offers intensive, evidence-based outpatient therapy programs for those with Parkinson’s disease and neurological conditions. The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®) Big method for physical movement and LSVT® Loud method for speech are available in our Rockville and White Oak locations.

LSVT Big®

Physical/Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease and Neurological Conditions
This therapy program addresses the unique movement impairments affecting those with Parkinson’s Disease.

How does it work?
Patients participate on a regular schedule -- four consecutive days per week, for four consecutive weeks. Twice every day, participants must complete a home exercise program. In addition, participants will have individual one-hour sessions with a certified physical/occupational therapist.
Improvements include:

  • Faster walking with bigger steps
  • Better physical balance
  • Increased trunk rotation
  • Increased quality of life
LSVT Loud®

Speech Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and Neurological Conditions
In this program, patients are trained to make their voices loud and speech clear.

How does it work?
Patients participate on a regular schedule -- four consecutive days per week, for four consecutive weeks. They will have individual one-hour sessions with an LSVT Loud® certified speech-language pathologist. Improvements include:

  • Increased voice level
  • Improved speech intelligibility
  • Enhanced facial expressions
  • Increased self-confidence

Advanced treatment options

For some patients, a procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS) that has been FDA approved for over a decade can help with tremors that are resistant to medication. Clinical trials have helped lead to many new treatments, including medications for Parkinson’s that have dramatically changed lives. Your specialist will answer all your questions about what treatment options may be best for you.

Helping Parkinson’s patients and families

Your Adventist Rehabilitation team provides training for family members, friends and caregivers to help patients build skills -- so they continue making progress, day after day. Our team of rehab specialists is always available to answer questions and provide guidance.

Achieving greater independence

Speech-language pathologists have advanced training that enables them to diagnose and treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease, which affects talking, understanding, eating, drinking and swallowing. The therapist will work one-on-one with patients to help them improve their skills to achieve greater independence in self-care.

Improving quality of life

A healthy lifestyle, especially a healthy diet and regular exercise, can increase energy, enhance medications’ effectiveness, and improve well-being. The Rehab team will work with each patient to help ease symptoms and achieve optimal outcomes -- to help each patient enjoy the best quality of life possible.


Learn more about Adventist’s Neurological Rehabilitation services.

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