Research shows that a combined focus on medical management and intensive rehabilitation can dramatically improve function and quality of life in individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
“One of the most important things to do while living with Parkinson’s disease is to stay active and engaged in some sort of physical therapy,” says Dr. Juan Asuaje, Medical Director of Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation. “The biggest challenges faced by those living with Parkinson’s disease are movement, balance, speech, and depression. Staying physically active when living with the disease may help to address these challenges.”
Asuaje says the key is to do activities that challenge the heart and lungs. “Choose exercises that continuously change tempo, activity, and direction so that your body can be constantly moving and shifting in different ways,” he says.
Some activities that offer this type of movement include:
- Couples dancing – like the tango or the waltz
- Boxing classes
- Tai chi
- Water aerobics
In addition, Asuaje stresses that medication compliance and timing also helps with movement in Parkinson’s patients.
“At Medical Director of Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation, we monitor medications closely so we can increase the amount of time medications are working well, allowing Parkinson’s patients to move and function easier,” Asuaje says.
“By doing this, and by having patients aware of the most beneficial times to take their medications, mobility can be enhanced which leads to increased independence in performing everyday activities.”
The National Institutes of Health shows evidence to suggest that non-compliance with medications results in poor response to therapy and can even increase direct and indirect health care costs.
“It’s a two-pronged approach, and each part is important – movement and medication,” Asuaje says. “By focusing on both together, individuals with Parkinson’s disease can expect to improve their movement, balance, and overall qualityof life.”