As an individual moves through Parkinson’s, occupational therapy (OT) can provide support for changes that occur with the disease progression. Functional Pathways facilitates this process by using a holistic OT approach throughout the continuum.  At the time of initial diagnosis, OT can provide education and support to the individual as they continue to fully participate in family, work, and  community roles. As changes occur, adaptation for activities of daily living can be used along with home modification recommendations. Strategies can be discussed for the individual to continue participation in meaningful occupations, cognitive engagement, medication management routines, and caregiver education.

Research continues to help with our understanding the complexities of Parkinson’s including motor, non-motor, and psychosocial changes.  Treatment strategies that address these areas which be important links to optimizing the individual’s quality of life.  Subtle changes (executive dysfunction and fatigue) may begin to impact daily life and should be addressed early in the plan of care.  Energy conservation, work simplification, planning and problem-solving for instrumental activities of daily living may be indicated before the onset of more obvious physical disabilities.

Self- management strategies can help empower the resident to help maintain their independence. New research has lead to use many approaches to promote health and wellness.  Occupational therapist can help guide these innovative approaches.  Functional Pathways OT teams are beginning to implement Tai Chi, Lee Silverman Big and Loud (LSVT-BIG) programs, Dance Parkinson’s, boxing, chair yoga, meditation and breathwork as transition bridges between skilled services and wellness/functional maintenance program. Our focus in helping Parkinson’s patients be more resilient and engaged in meaningful occupations to self-manage disease symptoms.


Article written by Beth Reigart, Clinical Outcomes Specialist.