October 8, 2021



Lindsey Miller SPT

Read Time

5 min

Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease


What is Parkinson’s Disease?1

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that is most commonly seen in men over age 60. 

How is it diagnosed?1

Parkinson’s disease is typically diagnosed by a cluster of signs and symptoms.

Symptoms to look out for:1


❖    Resting tremor

❖    Slowed movements

·      Decreased blink rate

❖    Decreased facial expressions

❖    Softer and more monotone speech

❖    Smaller movements

·      Cramped and small writing

❖    Difficulty rising from chair

❖    Changes in walking 

·      Decreased arm swing

·      Smaller steps

·      Difficulty turning to pivot

·      “Freezing”


❖    Cognitive decline

❖    Depression and anxiety

❖    GI disturbances

❖    Sleep disturbances

❖    Loss of sense of smell in 90%

·      May come years before other symptoms

❖    Orthostatic hypotension in 50%

❖    Increased urgency and frequency of urination in some

❖    Dementia in 30-40%

❖    Hallucinations and delusions in some


How is it treated?1,3,4,5

There have been no treatments shown to cure Parkinson’s Disease. However, there are several treatments shown to successfully treat the symptoms and prolong the disease progression. This includes pharmacological treatments, such as Levadopa, surgical procedures in patients who meet very specific criteria, and physical therapy.

Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease2,4,6

Most patients who choose to use physical therapy as a treatment for Parkinson’s symptoms will participate in progressive resistance training, balance training and a specialized program known as LSVT-BIG.

At Imagine Physical Therapy we specialize in working with patients who have a Parkinson’s diagnosis or present with similar symptoms. Please let us know if we can help in any way!!!



1.     Hayes MT. Parkinson's Disease and Parkinsonism. Am J Med. 2019 Jul;132(7):802-807. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.03.001. Epub 2019 Mar 16. PMID: 30890425.

2.     McDonnell MN, Rischbieth B, Schammer TT, Seaforth C, Shaw AJ, Phillips AC. Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT)-BIG to improve motor function in people with Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2018 May;32(5):607-618. doi: 10.1177/0269215517734385. Epub 2017 Oct 5. PMID: 28980476.

3.     Ebersbach G, Grust U, Ebersbach A, et al. Amplitude- oriented exercise in Parkinson’s disease: a randomized study comparing LSVT-BIG and a short training protocol. J Neural Transm 2015; 122: 253–256. 

4.     Chung CL, Thilarajah S, Tan D. Effectiveness of resistance training on muscle strength and physical function in people with Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2016 Jan;30(1):11-23. doi: 10.1177/0269215515570381. Epub 2015 Feb 17. PMID: 25691582.

5.     Fahn S, Oakes D, Shoulson I, Kieburtz K, Rudolph A, Lang A, Olanow CW, Tanner C, Marek K; Parkinson Study Group. Levodopa and the progression of Parkinson's disease. N Engl J Med. 2004 Dec 9;351(24):2498-508. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa033447. PMID: 15590952.

6.     Shen X, Wong-Yu IS, Mak MK. Effects of Exercise on Falls, Balance, and Gait Ability in Parkinson's Disease: A Meta-analysis. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2016 Jul;30(6):512-27. doi: 10.1177/1545968315613447. Epub 2015 Oct 21. PMID: 26493731.