Physical Therapy & Parkinson’s Disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive brain disorder that affects movement. It involves malfunction or death of neurons in the brain that produces dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that controls movements to be smooth and coordinated. Patients with Parkinson’s disease experience symptoms including resting tremor, slow movement or bradykinesia, rigidity, loss of posture reflex, flexed posture, and “freezing” episodes.

Physical Therapy Management for Parkinson’s Disease

Evidence-based physical therapy management for Parkinson’s disease include progressive aerobic training, skill acquisition, and big amplitude exercises. Progressive aerobic training should be intensive and exerting enough to promote brain protection and health. Physical therapists can guide you with selecting the appropriate intensity for best optimization and results. Progressive aerobic training slows down the progression of Parkinson’s disease and provides protection to your brain by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress from the brain. Skill acquisition is a repeated movement exercise to acquire new movement and skill. It is important to continue practicing acquiring new motor skills since patients with Parkinson’s disease lose the ability to acquire new motor skills as the condition progresses. Research shows big amplitude exercises improve posture response, bradykinesia or slow movement, and anticipatory postural control. Anticipatory postural control is crucial for balance during daily activities such as walking, moving your arms, shifting your weight, and more to prevent the risk of falls.

Other Activities for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

● Tai chi
● Boxing
● Juggling
● Rebound/trampoline activities
● Dancing involving multi-directional stepping and sequence

If you or your loved one is living with Parkinson’s disease, contact Sports PT today to speak to one of our physical therapists, who can provide you with patient-centered and evidence-based treatments for improved function, balance, and quality of life!


Park, Jeong-Ho et al. “What Is Wrong with Balance in Parkinson’s Disease?” Journal of movement disorders vol. 8,3 (2015): 109-14.

Salgado, Sanjay et al. “An evidence-based exercise regimen for patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease” Brain sciences vol. 3,1 87-100. 16 Jan. 2013.

Farley, Becky. Amplitude-Focused FUNctional Exercise for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.