Parkinson’s Disease: Is Physical Therapy Underused

In the wake of Muhammad Ali’s death – and the news we posted previously from a 2010 interview with Ali’s wife, Lonnie, (republished here by USA Today) that Ali had physical therapy – comes this piece from Medpage Today: Physical therapy is underused in helping treat Parkinson’s Disease.

The piece states: “Only about 11% of Parkinson’s patients on Medicare had claims for physical or occupational therapy and only about 12% had claims for speech therapy, Michelle Fullard, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues reported at the Movement Disorders Society meeting here.”

“’This is very positive support for something that many feel is a problem, that allied healthcare is highly underutilized,’ Peter Schmidt, PhD, of the National Parkinson Foundation, who wasn’t involved in the study, told MedPage Today.”

“Multiple studies have demonstrated the efficacy of physical, occupational, and speech therapy — collectively known as allied healthcare — in Parkinson’s disease. Physical therapy, for instance, has been shown in randomized controlled trials to improve motor function and independence and reduce falls in this population, the researchers said.”

The piece concludes: “Schmidt added that there are sufficient data to show that physical therapy in the long run benefits patients with Parkinson’s – even if that just means a slower degradation of their condition.”

“’Occupational and physical therapy can help patients with being able to exercise, and we know that’s one of the most effective ways to reverse the course of Parkinson’s,’ he said. ‘We’ve also shown that the earlier you get it, particularly with physical therapy, the more effective it is later in the disease.’”