Physiotherapy can help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s, says NICE

Physiotherapy can help people with Parkinson’s to manage their symptoms, maintain their independence and avoid hospital admission.

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NICE says adults with Parkinson's should have access to specialist services such as physiotherapy

This is according to a new quality standard published on 9 February by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and welcomed by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology (ACPIN).

It suggests that people with Parkinson’s should be referred to physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy if they have problems with

  • balance
  • motor function
  • activities of daily living
  • communication
  • swallowing or saliva

NICE adds that all adults with Parkinson’s should have contact with a specialist physiotherapist, who is able to ensure that disease-specific care is given.

Ann Ashburn, professor of rehabilitation at the University of Southampton and an ACPIN member, said: ‘We welcome the statement emphasising that people with Parkinson’s should have a point of contact and on-going access to specialist services including referral to physiotherapists with experience of Parkinson’s disease.’

And Jonathan McCrea, ACPIN board member for public affairs, said: ‘As a clinician I see patients with Parkinson’s disease who struggle to rise from a chair, freeze when trying to walk, or negotiate doorways, have an altered walking pattern, along with many other problems.

‘It is one of the amazing things as a physiotherapist to work with such patients and with the application of clinical skill, knowledge and experience make dramatic differences to these problems and thus to people’s lives.’

He added that he had recently seen a patient with Parkinson’s who had struggled, for more than a year, to get in and out of a chair while dining out.

‘Very quickly I was able to identify the problem and the solution. She mastered it within about 10 minutes and simply giggled with delight. Her question was: “Why was I not referred to you sooner?”’ said Dr McCrea.

‘It is of course a progressive condition where some functional tasks do become impossible, so we also provide a great deal of support and guidance over many years.’

The new quality standard is intended to fit into the NICE Pathway on Parkinson’s disease. And the institute hopes it will contribute to improvements in areas including patient experience, health-related quality of life and hospital admissions and readmissions.


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by Robert Millett

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