Physiotherapy to Support People with Parkinson's disease in Saskatchewan
Canada Guidelines on Parkinson’s disease (PD) promotes physical therapists as valued health care providers in the treatment of PD and there are opportunities for Saskatchewan physical therapists to increase their knowledge of the management of Parkinson’s from a multidisciplinary approach in order to support people experiencing Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers.
Jennifer Schoeck, Community Engagement Coordinator, works with the Saskatoon branch of Parkinson’s Canada as a resource for people experiencing PD and their caregivers. Jennifer has indicated Saskatchewan is the only province that does not presently have a PD multi-disciplinary team approach to care. Other provinces have teams that can offer support and education following diagnosis to allow people to take a proactive approach to treatment. Seeing a physiotherapist earlier in the diagnosis stage of PD can allow people to increase their physical abilities early and delay the progression of functional impairments.
Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease, is a peer-reviewed supplement to the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences. The guidelines report there are a number of treatments available for PD including medications, surgical procedures, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other support services. The guidelines note the lack of adequate access to health care providers (including physiotherapists) with expertise and adequate training to deal with these very complex patients creates a limitation to the implementation of the guidelines.
The guidelines note physical and exercise therapies may include multidisciplinary rehabilitation, active music therapy, gait re-education, improvement of balance and flexibility, enhancement of aerobic capacity, improvement of movement initiation, improvement of functional independence and provision of advice on safety. The guidelines report these approaches result in benefits, however continued therapy is required to sustain benefits. A lack of motivation is common with PD and can present as a barrier to sustained exercise. Patients enrolled in formal exercise programs, showed improvement in ADL and motor scores, reduced bradykinesia, improved ambulation speed and decreased falls. Home exercise programs have also been shown to be effective. The guidelines indicate people with PD have an increased risk of falls, and fall prevention through exercise therapy would presumably reduce overall healthcare expenditure.
Saskatchewan currently has a number of exercise programs for people with PD. Jennifer Schoeck has expressed a need for support and resources for people hosting and leading rural exercise programs for PD in Saskatchewan. Jennifer reported it would be fantastic to have physiotherapists who could provide education and advice on running effective programs.
There are a number of educational opportunities for physiotherapists supporting patients with PD. The Allied Team Training for Parkinson's will be held for the first time in Canada from April 4-6, 2018 in Vancouver, BC. The course was developed for healthcare professionals to increase the knowledge of PD and build capacity for comprehensive inter-professional care in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Registration information can be found at: https://www.parkinson.bc.ca/education-events
Parkinson’s Canada website has a number of resources available for healthcare providers including the guidelines referenced above as well as a free e-learning module for health care professionals.
SPA has worked with Jennifer Schoeck (Parkinson’s Canada) and students from the School of Rehabilitation Science to provide physiotherapy related patient resources for PD available on the SPA website and through printed pamphlets. A current student working group is engaged in a project to promote regular exercise which contributes to the sustained activity benefits outlined in The Canada Guidelines on Parkinson’s Disease. Educational opportunities, increased access to physiotherapy services and improvement in multidisciplinary approaches to care will support the implementation of the Canadian Guidelines on PD in Saskatchewan. The SPA values the opportunity to work with Parkinson’s Canada to support people experiencing PD and their caregivers.
By Garnette Weber, SPA Project Manager
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