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Allied care professionals who can be valuable members of your treatment team are described below. Talk to your physician about how to build the right care team for you.
A physical therapist (PT) can help you maintain or improve mobility and manage certain types of pain by helping you develop strategies for walking and balance, for maintaining strength, and for keeping range of motion. In some cases a PT may also provide speech-language therapy to help with speaking, swallowing, reading and writing.
An occupational therapist (OT) helps patients with physical impairment or mental limitations engage in the activities of daily life, such as self-care skills, education, work and social interaction. An OT will work to help someone with Parkinson’s disease keep certain physical abilities for as long as possible, and help them prepare and adapt to changes in their disease. An OT can teach you the best ways to transfer from sitting to standing, or what to do if you find yourself freezing or losing balance.
A speech therapist can help you maintain and improve communication skills. For people with Parkinson’s disease, that may include speaking too softly or in a monotone, or slurring or repeating words. A speech therapist can also help you in other important ways. As Parkinson’s progresses, swallowing can become more troublesome and can pose a choking risk when eating. This difficulty is called dysphagia. Speech therapists can teach you preventative methods of chewing and swallowing.
A therapist/counselor can help people with Parkinson’s disease manage depression, anxiety and other emotional changes that can be part of coping with Parkinson’s disease.
A nutritionist/dietitian can make dietary recommendations, individualize nutrition programs, and educate you about diet and overall health.