For people with Parkinson’s disease, physical activity can significantly decrease symptoms and even slow progression of the illness. As physical therapist (PT) Maggie Hoelmer notes, “There's a lot of excellent evidence that moderate to high-intensity exercise can promote an affected individual’s balance, mobility, flexibility, strength and posture, which can ultimately reduce risk of falls.”

But symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary widely, and their severity depends on how far an individual’s illness has progressed. So physical activities have to be adapted on a case-by-case basis, which is what physical therapists like Maggie do for their patients.

During our conversation with Maggie on the For Health’s Sake podcast, we discuss what these adaptations look like and touched on topics like:

  • Which Parkinson’s symptoms physical therapy targets
  • Specific physical therapy programs for people with Parkinson’s
  • How a PT evaluates a person with Parkinson’s
  • Common exercise recommendations
  • Examples of customized treatment strategies

Keep doing what you love

Physical therapy can help people with Parkinson’s maintain their quality of life for a long time. Maggie describes two of her patients who consistently engaged in activities adapted for their symptoms. “Both did very well with maintaining their mobility, even throughout the later stages of Parkinson’s disease.”

If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s, talk to your primary care doctor. They can walk you through first steps and refer you to a specialist.