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Physiotherapy for Parkinson's disease - help with movement, posture and balance


"I go to physiotherapy and they advice me on different exercises that can help me. It gives me more confidence when I am out and about"


  • People with Parkinson's disease (PD) often experience stiff or rigid muscles, difficulty moving around, and problems with balance and posture.


  • Physiotherapists relieve muscle and joint stiffness and discomfort by use of exercise, relaxation, physical treatments such as heat and cooling, and by carefully moving joints and by stretching muscles (manipulation). They can also teach people to do this themselves.


  • If muscles are used less frequently, then they tend to lose strength. Physiotherapists can advise on specific exercises to maintain or improve muscle strength. These exercises can also be performed at home. People feel more comfortable and more confident and so can remain more independent.


  • People with PD often develop difficulties with everyday actions, such as walking normally, getting up from a chair, turning over and getting in and out of bed. Physiotherapists can teach how to get round  these problems and make it easier to get about. They can recommend any walking aids and appliances and other equipment that would be suitable.


  • Physiotherapists can also help with retaining good posture and maintaining balance. They teach people how to reduce risk of falls and what to do if they do fall over. If breathing is a problem, they can recommend exercises and techniques that can help.


  • Early referral for physiotherapy is generally recommended. Continual physiotherapy is not needed, but intermittent reassessment and maintenance sessions and advice are valuable. Involving family members will let them learn how best to help, without damaging themselves and reduce misunderstanding and frustration.

Physiotherapists work alongside other staff in hospitals and clinics, as well as working independently. You may be able to refer yourself directly, or may need a referral from your family doctor or specialist.


The UK Parkinson's Disease Society (telephone +44 (0)20 7931 8080; http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/) publishes a booklet and audio cassette tape of relaxation and exercises to music ('Living with Parkinson's disease'), as well as a video cassette tape of exercises.


The Association of Physiotherapists and Parkinson's Disease in Europe (http://appde.unn.ac.uk) also publish a video cassette 'Common mobility problems in Parkinson's disease and how to address them' are available via http://www.parkinsoninfo.dk, or from Mariella.graziano@internet.lu


Guidelines for physiotherapy in Parkinson's disease are available at www.online.unn.ac.uk

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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