Therapy programmes for Parkinson's

Therapy is very important in helping to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Physiotherapy for Parkinson’s

People with Parkinson's might have difficulties with movements such as sitting, standing and walking. Physiotherapists use physical treatments, including exercise, to help people with movement problems maintain useful function. They can help manage stiffness in joints and can improve muscle strength and mobility.

Physiotherapists can provide help with:

  • Cueing strategies
  • Balance and falls
  • Getting in and out of a chair
  • Turning over in bed
  • Walking and posture

Physiotherapists can also help carers with mobility concerns and give advice on how to prevent falls.

Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s

This service provides support in helping people maintain independence in a safe way to help with everyday activities that may have started to become a struggle. The Occupational Therapist will look at how they can help make tasks easier.

They provide practical advice and education in the following areas:

  • Self care (eating, drinking, washing and dressing)
  • Domestic activities (cleaning and shopping)
  • Functional mobility (transfers and transport)
  • Leisure and work
  • Environment (ramps & rails)
  • Handwriting technique

Some of the equipment that might be required includes:

  • Kitchen aids
  • Grab rails
  • Bed levers
  • Modified cutlery
  • Bathroom aids

Speech and Language Therapy for Parkinson’s

The Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) help people with speech, language, communication, swallowing or saliva problems.

Speech problems
SLTs can provide advice about the following:

  • How to speak more clearly
  • Voice projection
  • Speaking with confidence on a one-one basis or within a group setting
  • Communication aids

Where appropriate, some patients can be referred to a specialist programme for voice training called “Lee Silverman Voice Training” or another similar programme.

Swallowing problems
People with Parkinson’s sometimes experience problems with their swallowing and the SLTs can assess people for this. They will look at the mechanics of a person’s swallow, find out what the problem is, advise on posture techniques when eating, advise on different textured diets and help identify types of food that are easier to swallow. SLTs can also advise on saliva management, for example if people are having problems with drooling.

Parkinson’s Therapy in Coventry & Warwickshire

There is a wide range of therapy services across Coventry and Warwickshire that GPs and/or the Parkinson’s Team can refer to. Therapy teams around the county have set up specific Parkinson’s therapy programmes. In addition, local Parkinson’s UK branches run several classes such as exercise sessions, speech classes, Pilates (contact local P-UK branches for more details).

Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at UHCW, Coventry
The Rehabilitation Unit provides a specialised neurological outpatient rehabilitation therapy service for people living in Coventry (with a Coventry GP) who have neurological conditions, including people who have Parkinson’s. Specialised therapies include Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Clinical Neuropsychology. The Unit aims to help people achieve their best in terms of mobility and lifestyle. A detailed assessment will create individual goals to enable people to achieve their full potential in returning to everyday living, whether in home, work or leisure settings.

The Rehabilitation Unit receives referrals from Neurologists and Parkinson’s Nurse Specialists. Apart from individual therapy intervention, there are three programmes available to help people with Parkinson’s achieve their best:

Parkinson’s Newly Diagnosed Programme - eight weekly sessions. This course focuses on the evidence around choices to be considered in keeping yourself well and active whilst you are living with Parkinson’s. Each session is split into two components: exercise (which includes stretches, movement and fitness) and discussion of self- management topics (including relaxation).

Parkinson’s Movement Strategy and Self-Management Programme - eight weekly sessions. Each session is split into three components: teaching relaxation techniques, teaching movement strategies and discussion of self-management topics. Group numbers are kept small to enable the therapists to work with individuals to achieve their goals.

Lifestyle Management Programme - ten weekly sessions. This course is designed to support people who are dealing with difficult life situations or who are living with a long term health condition. The programme helps people to gain control over their situation by making use of, and building on, their own coping and recovery strategies. The course aims to boost confidence and self- esteem by acknowledging and celebrating the successes participants achieve along the way.

Other therapies available in the Rehabilitation Unit include Interactive Metronome Therapy and Nordic Walking Training.

Lead Parkinson’s Therapist
Val Pilgrim, Team Leader Rehabilitation Unit, University Hospital Coventry.

Val Pilgrim, Physiotherapist and Team Leader of the Rehabilitation Unit, achieved Team Leader of the Year 2013 at the UHCW NHS Trust Outstanding Service and Care Awards for the development of therapy services for people living with Parkinson's.

Neurological Therapy at Hospital of St Cross in Rugby

Outpatient Physiotherapy is provided with individualised assessment and treatment at The Hospital of St Cross or at a person’s home if clinically indicated. There is a recently established Parkinson’s Education Programme (PEP) for newly diagnosed patients.

Lead Parkinson’s Therapist
Lucy Allan, Superintendent Physiotherapist, Hospital of St Cross Rugby.

Neurological Therapy at George Eliot Hospital

Neurological Outpatients at George Eliot Hospital provides a specialised neurological outpatient rehabilitation therapy service for people living in North Warwickshire with a North Warwickshire GP, who have neurological conditions including Parkinson’s.

We work closely with other members of the multi-disciplinary (MDT) team, including Physio, OT, SLT, Dietician and the Parkinson’s Nurse, to ensure the best support for those with Parkinson’s in this area.

Physiotherapy will involve a detailed assessment to establish the person’s main difficulties and to create individual goals to enable people to achieve their full potential in returning to everyday living, in home, work or leisure settings.

Therapy will then include working on those difficulties to try and improve them, as well as giving information and helping the person and their family/carers to manage this long-term condition. This is mainly done in an out-patient setting but home visits can also be done when clinically indicated.

Occupational Therapy provides support, advice and guidance, helping people with Parkinson’s to maintain independence with everyday activities. The Occupational Therapist will see people either in clinic at George Eliot Hospital or at home, if required.

There is a Neuro Upper Limb Group available to people who would like to work on improving strength, dexterity and coordination.

Parkinson’s Education Programme (PEP) is for people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s within the last two years. It a 4 week course that is run in partnership with other members of the MDT to educate, enable and empower people with Parkinson’s to live and manage their condition.

Lead Parkinson’s Therapists
Emma Gadsby, senior neuro-physiotherapist, George Eliot Hospital.
Lissie Broadhead, senior SLT, George Eliot Hospital.

Updated 22 April 2016