What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological degenerative disorder. That is, a condition that affects the brain, which typically worsens gradually over time. Specifically, the brain starts producing less of a critical chemical in body known as Dopamine, resulting in a range of changes throughout the body.


How does it present?

Dopamine has a key role is assisting transmitting messages between different centres in the brain, particularly with regards to movement. The net effect is we often see a pattern where movement is becoming slower, smaller, and requiring more mental effort. Other common symptoms include a resting tremor (shaking), a stiffening of the body, a stooped posture, and worsening balance.


So what does this mean?

Early diagnosis is important for Parkinson’s disease as starting proper management can help control the condition and prevent ‘secondary’ problems arising. For example, if you are moving less you are likely to get weaker, which in turn makes moving even harder! In addition, getting started on medication under a neurologist is critical for long term management.


How can physio help?

Dopamine largely affects our automatic basis for movement. Particularly early on, we still have excellent control over conscious movement. This opens a whole new world of options. There are many tricks and strategies to be learned that can improve our quality of movement, using this concept. Further, discussions about appropriate walking aids and equipment as needed. And of course, exercise as a critical component to combat declining posture, balance, and strength. 


Parkinson’s Disease is a very complicated condition, but there is an ever growing volume of evidence that supports a positive response to exercise and physiotherapy. If you have been diagnosed or are starting to notice signs and symptoms, getting started could make a world of difference to your quality of life over time.

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