Beaverton Council on Aging: Alternative Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease

By Cathy Doyle, MPT, NTPcity-of-beaverton-LOGO

In light of April being Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I’d like to share some insight on the benefits of complementary therapies as it relates to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Your care “team” can include not just your doctors and nurses, but also other health professionals – such as speech, physical and occupational therapists – that can help you live better with PD. Check with your neurologist for recommendations and a referral.

Speech Therapy (ST) can help people with PD increase voice volume, improve word pronunciation and clarity of speech, and improve nonverbal communication and facial expression. They can also fix difficulties with swallowing, by evaluating and treating problems using a combination of modified diet, altered swallowing techniques and exercises. Problems often begin with their speech becoming softer and more monotonous in quality. Some patients can even develop a stuttering quality to their speech. Later, trouble swallowing may develop. As with all signs of PD, speech problems can continue to worsen as the disorder progresses.

Physical Therapy (PT) can help increase strength, endurance, movement and control, improve flexibility, gait and balance, address freezing and fall prevention.  PT will come up with a custom-tailored home exercise program to improve mobility problems and prevent or reduce the impact of future anticipated problems.

Occupational Therapy (OT) teaches alternative methods of performing daily tasks that may pose a challenge, such as eating and dressing – that can help people with PD keep their independence. An OT can evaluate your home and recommend safety equipment to make the home safer and easier to get around such as suggesting specific aids or alternatives to allow the person with PD to continue dressing, bathing and feeding himself/herself.

Family caregivers can be trained to assist with everyday activities such as getting in and out of chairs, beds and cars, and with dressing, bathing, and eating. Contact your physician if you are interested in any of these therapies.

If you are interested in serving as a volunteer member of the Beaverton Council on Aging, please email Jim Brooks, City of Beaverton.