Parkinson’s Assessments

Our assessments are a comprehensive service to gain an idea of your baseline. It will determine how we structure your therapy and how many sessions you may need. Assessments might feel daunting or overwhelming as you may not like the answer, but they are an important first step to improving your overall health and learning to live with your condition.

The assessment begins at your home. We will ask about your medical history including the diagnosis of your condition. We will review your symptoms and how they impact you on a daily or hourly basis.  You may feel differently between morning, afternoon or evening time so it’s important for us to understand how to specifically tailor things for you .

Some of the areas we look at include;

We will look at how you stand and move.

How fast are you moving?  We assess speed of movement in your hands, fingers, legs and feet. We look for any difficulty you may have moving with a ‘normal’ speed or whether you are slower (bradykinesia).

Hypokinesia refers to the size of your movements e.g. how big you move. Sometimes with Parkinson’s your movements get smaller, but you are unaware of this. Learning to move bigger is an integral part of therapy and helps you retrain your brain to get normal movements back.

We help recalibrate your brain so it recognises how big your movements should be.  Smaller movements either in your hand or feet means a decrease in balance reactions and the ability to do fine movements with your hands such as undoing buttons. With repetition and focussed movements it can be improved and thus, help improve your independence.

Not everyone with Parkinson’s has a tremor and the tremor can be different in everyone. It can have small motions or big noticeable movements. Depending on how big and strong the tremors, they may impact your ability to do many everyday tasks such as drinking from a cup with the affected side. Tremor can also affect your neck and head giving you a headache or neck pain. You may also find that your tremor is affecting your ability to sleep and wakes you up. If we can get you to move with intention and mindful movements, we can reduce the tremors.

So many factors play a part in balance. During an assessment, we review your history to see if you have had any falls and try to pinpoint where that might occur e.g. at home, outdoors, when turning, when carrying items in your hand, or when your medication has worn off.

We look at balance reactions, how well you react to a loss of balance. We look at your ability to balance with eyes closed and open, with feet apart or together, standing on one leg or standing one foot in front of the other. We also look at your home environment to see if there is anything we can suggest to improve your ability to move around your home safely. If you’ve had a fall, you may have lost some confidence.  We can help you get your confidence back to improve your quality of life, maintain your functions at home and stay at your best.

A gait assessment looks into how you walk. You’ve had years of practice for your walking and while it is something you may know how to do, you actually may not be doing it correctly! You can pick up bad habits from avoiding a painful joint or your balance is off so you’ve adapted how you step. Maybe you now feel you need a walking aid of some sort?

The right walking aid can help or hinder so we will help recommend the right one. With Parkinsons, your arms may not swing, or maybe you are taking small steps. Maybe you have freezing of gait, which is where your feet get stuck and you fall. Walking is more than just going forward; you need to be able to turn, walk backwards or sideways, or maybe you need to turn your head or carry something when walking.

The gait assessment is the first step in a plan to help you overcome any difficulties.

Together with speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists can help to identify issues with swallowing or eating by watching you drink or by speaking to you. Parkinson’s can affect your voice quality, the loudness of your voice and the strength of it. If you are struggling to be understood because you speak too low or are mumbling, we can help.

Physiotherapists can help manage and maintain your voice by working on your posture, breathing and voice awareness, while speech therapists look at your vocal chords and swallowing ability. Maintaining a good swallow is vital for maintaining your health so you can avoid getting a chest infection.

Parkinson’s also has non-motor symptoms which can impact your ability to move.  During an assessment, we identify any non-motor symptoms so that we can help overcome any obstacle from the first appointment. Therapists can help with symptoms like depression, apathy, motivation, sleep disturbances, sexual problems or bladder problems. While these cannot be seen, they are no less disabling.

Once identified, these symptoms can be managed and with lots of encouragement, they can be overcome. We can set achievable goals so you can see your improvements, keeping you motivated.

Let’s Get You Moving.

We identify any task, exercise, sport you may have stopped due to an increase in symptoms. We look into why it is difficult and once we address the why, we help to change how you move or modify the task so you can continue to do your task with confidence and independence.

Once the assessment is complete, we discuss goals. Having a goal helps you to stay motivated and in control of your own treatment and management. Once a goal has been achieved, we can set new ones, or we help you be able to continue meeting your goal daily!

Contact me for an assessment and to get a baseline of where you are today so you can keep moving to the best of your ability and to make sure if you are exercising, that what you are doing is correct for you!

Let’s Retrain
Your Brain.