What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological condition. The symptoms can often appear slowly and over a long period of time. With this condition, there is a lack of a chemical called dopamine in the brain.

Who is affected?

Most people who develop Parkinson's are aged 50 or over, but younger people can get it too. In the UK it is estimated that one person in every 500 has Parkinson's, that's about 127,000 people.

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Parkinson's Disease

Specialist Physiotherapy In The Home

The Best in Neuro Physiotherapy Care for You or Your Loved One

At Estuary Physio we know how challenging it can be to access specialist physiotherapy services and continue to make progress with your rehabilitation after leaving hospital

We work with experienced physiotherapists who specialise in neurological physio care. We take a gentle and caring approach and are always on hand to help and advise.

Our team of specialist clinicians offer treatment for:

We're here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions or to arrange your first appointment with a trusted physio in your area.

What are the common signs of Parkinson's Disease?

Early symptoms of this disease are subtle and occur gradually. These include:

* Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body
* Slow movement
* Stiff muscles

There are a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms that are often reported. The most common include:

* Anxiety and depression
* Apathy
* Difficulty sleeping
* Smaller handwriting
* Fatigue
* Bowel and bladder problems
* Cramps
* Loss of smell
* Balance problems
* Memory problems

Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. Even if people do, they won't necessarily experience the symptoms in quite the same order or at the same intensity.

What are the types and stages of Parkinson's Disease?

There are two main types of Parkinson's Disease: Idiopathic and secondary Parkinsonism. Idiopathic tends to have no known causes, whereas secondary may be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from medications to head trauma. There are variations and subtypes under these two types.

The progression of Parkinson's disease can vary from person to person, and not all individuals will experience all stages. Currently, the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) is a rating tool used to gauge the severity and progression of Parkinson's disease. It consists of six segments and is used for monitoring the response to medications.

What are the main causes of Parkinson's Disease?

It is currently not known as to why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson's disease occurs. Many researchers now believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible.

Parkinson's Disease is occasionally inherited, it can be the result of faulty genes being passed to a child by their parents. It is rare for the disease to be inherited in this way.

Environmental factors
There is a possibility that pesticides and herbicides used in farming as well as traffic and industrial pollution may contribute to the cause.

How do you diagnose Parkinson's Disease?

It can take months or years before a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is made. This is because it mimics other conditions, such as essential tremor. Also, at present, there are no definitive tests. A Neurologist is often the person who will make the diagnosis. They will often take a detailed history and examine you physically. You may find it helpful to track your symptoms in a diary to discuss this at your consultation.

After the appointment with the Neurologist, it may be suggested that you trial medication. If these medications improve your symptoms, a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease may be confirmed. It may also be suggested that you have a scan to help make a diagnosis. It is worth noting that scans alone can't make a definite diagnosis of Parkinson's.

It is anticipated that research into this area will allow faster and easier diagnostics of Parkinson's Disease in the future.

What is the outlook?

It can be difficult to accurately predict the progression. As the disease progresses, people often need to work alongside their doctor to adjust medication dosages. Support may also be required from different health professionals along the way, such as Speech and language therapists for swallowing problems.

What advise would you give to loved ones?

* Attend healthcare appointments and gently prompt on the information taught in these appointments, if appropriate. For example, if cues are taught for freezing of gait, it may be helpful to prompt someone when they freeze
* Be flexible, symptoms can vary throughout the day and week on week
* People with Parkinson's need their medication on time every time, if you notice medications are missed, find ways help them get them on time
* Adapt and work as a team to help support someone maintain their independence, for as long as possible, and achieve their goals

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Specialist Physiotherapy

Our specialist physiotherapy service covers a wide range of areas in Central and Greater London


Specialist Physiotherapy

Our Essex physiotherapists cover areas including Benfleet, Basildon, Rayleigh, Southend and Chelmsford

What home changes should I make?

It can be helpful for a health professional, specifically an Occupational therapist to view the home if there are difficulties with safety or accessibility. Here are some recommendations:

Clear trip hazards in the house such as wires and rugs.

Adequate lighting can reduce falls risk. Motion sensor lights can be particularly helpful.

Grab rails may be helpful near steps at entrance and exits, near toilets and showers and along staircases.

Non-slip surfaces may be of use in the kitchen and bathroom.

Chairs that are firm with armrests on each side can be easier to stand from than low sofas.
Assistive devices such as long-handle shoehorns or grab aids, may make day to day tasks easier.


Physiotherapy is vital to helping manage symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and maintaining quality of life. You may be able to access this service through the NHS via your Neurologist or Gp. Most people who are newly diagnosed will also now receive an appointment by a Physiotherapist to start exercise early. As the disease progresses, the type of exercises that the person may benefit from are likely to change.

Physiotherapists will provide a personalised programme that aims to maintain physical function, for as long as possible. This may include exercises to improve strength, flexibility, posture, cardiovascular fitness and coordination. If you are experiencing freezing of gait, a Physiotherapist is likely to explore strategies such as cueing that may help you.


There are certain situations where people with Parkinson's are more likely to experience freezing of gait, such as in narrow spaces, busy environments, whilst turning or during initiation of movement. These may be exacerbated by dual tasking, stress or distractions. Cueing may be used to help with the motor symptoms. Cues can take various forms. Visual cueing may involve using lines or lasers as a target to walk over, auditory cueing may involve using a metronome or rhythmic music, tactile cueing may involve strategies such as shifting weight. The cues can help bypass the area of the brain impaired and help improve overall function. The cues are likely to need exploration with a health provider and are likely to change over time and may differ depending on the location.


If you would like to find out more about Estuary Physios Parkinson's disease service, please get in touch with us today and speak with one of our clinicians.


Power for Parkinson's

NHS - Parkinson's Disease


We understand that our clients often have a range of medical conditions. Our therapists have a broad range of backgrounds. For example, someone with Parkinson's disease may also find they are having difficulty with falls. We have specialist falls therapists who can work alongside a Neurology Physiotherapist to get the best results. Here are some other conditions we treat here at Estuary Physio:

Older Adults

Medical Review

The information on this page has been reviewed for accuracy by Barry Ford BSc MCSP, Physiotherapist

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