Updated: May 6, 2019
Did you know that there are around 17,000 Queenslanders living with Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological disorder in which parts of the brain become damaged over many years.
The three main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
stiff and inflexible muscles
A person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms, including:
depression and anxiety
balance problems – this may increase the chance of a fall
loss of sense of smell
problems sleeping (insomnia)
Although there's currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.
supportive treatments – such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy
in some cases, brain surgery
There are several therapies that can make living with Parkinson's disease easier and help you deal with your symptoms on a day-to-day basis.
A physiotherapist can work with you to relieve muscle stiffness and joint pain through movement (manipulation) and exercise.
The physiotherapist aims to make moving easier, and improve your walking and flexibility. They also try to improve your fitness levels and ability to manage things for yourself.
For some people with Parkinson's disease, making dietary changes can help improve some symptoms.
These changes can include:
increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and making sure you're drinking enough fluid to reduce constipation
increasing the amount of salt in your diet and eating small, frequent meals to avoid problems with low blood pressure, such as dizziness when you stand up quickly
making changes to your diet to avoid unintentional weight loss
Exercise and healthy eating
Regular exercise is particularly important in helping relieve muscle stiffness, improving your mood, and relieving stress.
There are many activities you can do to help keep yourself fit, ranging from more active sports like tennis and cycling, to less strenuous activities such as walking, gardening and yoga.
You should also try to eat a balanced diet containing all the food groups to give your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.
An occupational therapist can identify areas of difficulty in your everyday life – for example, dressing yourself or getting to the local shops.
They can help you work out practical solutions, and ensure your home is safe and properly set up for you. This will help you maintain your independence for as long as possible.
Read more about occupational therapy
Speech and Language Therapy
Many people with Parkinson's disease have swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) and problems with their speech.
A speech and language therapist can often help you improve these problems by teaching speaking and swallowing exercises, or by providing assistive technology.
Relationships and support
Being diagnosed with a long-term condition like Parkinson's disease can put a strain on you, your family and friends. It can be difficult to talk to people about your condition, even if they're close to you.
Dealing with the deterioration of symptoms, such as increasing difficulty with movement, may make you feel frustrated and depressed. Spouses, partners or carers will inevitably feel anxious or frustrated as well.
Be open about how you feel, and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. Don't feel shy about telling them you need some time to yourself, if that's what you want.
Psychologists are able to help guide you through these feelings and help you connect with your network of support.
If you would benefit from any or all of the above therapies, please get in touch with our team. We are passionate about ensuring people are living a full life, and the first step is just a phone call away.