Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. As the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become increasingly common such as difficulty sleeping. People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. Parkinson’s develops when cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. These brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine. Symptoms start to appear when the brain can’t make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's in the UK is about 145,000. That's around 1 adult in every 350.

The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioural problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease.

Other symptoms may include

How Occupational Therapy Can Help

Advice and assistance:

  • Providing help and training on new ways to carry out daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, working and learning
  • Look at areas such as the bathroom and stair mobility and make longer term recommendations to ensure the home environment will meet both your short term and future needs. This includes considering adaptations such as wet rooms, adapted kitchens or through floor lifts.
  • Ensuring the correct seating, mobility aids and wheelchair are provided to maximise your function and independence. OT’s can refer onto other agencies such as a Physiotherapist for a more comprehensive mobility assessment.
  • Working with a client and their employer to advise on ways to remain at work for as long as feasible. This may involve looking at ways of travelling to work, how to maximise energy or investigate work place changes such as the provision of equipment and minor adaptations such as rails.
  • Helping manage fatigue and tiredness by identifying priorities for the day and conserving your energy for those activities whether that be preparing dinner for the children or maintaining your work role. Promoting your sense of wellbeing by helping you find ways to continue with hobbies and interests, such as gardening or sports.
  • Recommending environmental controls which allow the control of functions in the home such as opening curtains, turning on lights or the TV to be controlled from your wheelchair, armchair or bed. An OT will work with a client to identify the most suitable environmental controls for them that will preserve your independence for as long as possible.
  • An OT can show you techniques and recommend equipment to help you get in and out of your car independently. The OT may also suggest adaptations to your vehicle to keep you safe while driving. An OT can support you and your family to live positively, helping you to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t; for example, by assisting you to establish personal goals.

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