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Occupational therapy for Parkinson's disease - practical advice and aids for keeping independent

“I couldn’t get out of the bath, so they gave me a seat to sit on in the bath. They also put up rails to get up the stairs. It means I can now do it all by myself.”


  • Parkinson’s disease (PD) makes it more difficult to carry out self-care (dressing, washing, eating, bathing, toileting) and causes difficulties with everyday activities around and outside the house (housework, shopping) and at work and leisure.

  • Occupational therapy (OT) aims to help people with PD to maintain as high a level of independence for as long as possible.

  • The occupational therapist will be able to advise on how to adapt the home environment to make it as safe and convenient as possible. They can also suggest to patients and their families how best to approach and carry out daily activities in a safe and efficient way. This helps to keep the person with PD as independent as possible and reduces frustration.

  • OT’s also advise on and provide specialist equipment and adaptations that may help with everyday tasks and with getting around. They also teach people how best to make use of them.

  • People with PD may benefit from simple modifications to everyday items (e.g. replacing buttons and zips in clothes with Velcro, using satin sheets or nightclothes to help people move in bed, elastic shoelaces, bath seats and non-slip mats etc.).

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  • Useful equipment for people with PD may include simple aids such as modified cutlery for eating, two-handled cup for drinking, long-handled combs and brushes, an electric toothbrush and cordless razor, dressing aids, and raised chairs and toilet seat to help get up and down. A personal computer with speech-activated software can avoid problems with keyboards.

  • Mobility may be made easier by fitting grab rails to hold on to when moving around, advising on building ramps instead of steps, or provision of a  stair lift. OT can also advise on suitable walking aids and wheelchairs, or on appropriate modifications to cars.

A referral to an occupational therapist may be arranged through your family doctor, social worker, or specialist doctor or nurse.

The UK Parkinson’s Disease Society (telephone +44 (0)20 7931 8080; http://www.parkinsons.org.uk) publishes leaflets on occupational therapy and on advice on clothing and footwear. A booklet (‘Living with Parkinson’s disease’ ) is also available.

Useful websites include

Directory of Independent living products and services for disabled people and their families in the UK

Disability information directory

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This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris