Occupational Medicine Questions Parkinson's Disease

How will an occupational therapist help with Parkinson's?

My grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and her doctor actually referred her to an occupational therapist to help her with her symptoms. What kind of activities will an occupational therapist help my grandmother with?

1 Answer

Occupational therapists may also help with changes in relationship dynamics by promoting the maintenance of normal roles, daily routines, and social habits as much as possible.

- Mobility: This includes helping people with PD concentrate on walking, avoiding all non-essential talking when moving, pausing when speaking, and touching something solid to aid balance while walking and standing. Occupational therapists also teach patients how to change direction without abrupt turns to optimize stability. They may also check for the need of walking aids and home modifications.
- Prevention of falls: Aimed at reducing the risk of falls, therapists recommend that people with PD pay full attention and concentrate on walking and using alternative equipment when carrying items, such as pockets, diagonal shoulder bags, body belts, or trolleys.
- Sit-to-stand transfers: Sit-to-stand transfers from chairs, toilets, and the bedside may present difficulties for people with PD. Occupational therapists can provide appropriate strategies such as using suitable worded verbal cues and suggesting equipment to aid transfers including chair risers, riser recliner armchairs, and level-access showers instead of a bath.
- Bed mobility: Therapists teach movement methods for turning over in bed, adjusting a position, and getting out of bed.
- Posture and seating: Therapists help increase awareness and self-correction of postural problems, assess the need for postural support, and review wheelchair suitability.
- Eating and drinking: Therapists can recommend good sitting posture, adequate lighting, and ways to have fewer distractions while eating and drinking. Occupational therapists also assess if modified eating and drinking equipment are required to minimize difficulties.
- Self-care routines: This helps people with PD whose personal care routines have become slow and tiring, which may increase the risk of falls.
- Domestic skills: Meal preparations, housework, and shopping may be affected due to loss of coordination and balance, and a reduced ability to multitask. Small items of equipment may be introduced to help promote domestic skills, such as non-slip latex for easier jar opening, lever taps to reduce effort when using taps, and a wire mesh to help drain pans or vegetables. Extra assistance for housework such as ironing, maintenance tasks, and management of paperwork may be required.
- Fatigue management: People with PD find that they become tired more quickly, which may be due to the effort of staying upright and inefficient movement strategies. Occupational therapists can review routines and help prioritize tasks, restructure activities according to energy levels, and introduce regular resting periods, including good sleep.
- Handwriting: People with PD tend to have micrographia, or handwriting where letters are smaller and sloping toward page corners instead of straight across. Visual or auditory cues as well as sitting comfortably and in an upright position at a table with good lighting may help with handwriting.