Many people believe that a physical therapist can only be used to relieve pain caused by various ailments or to restore full physical capacity following an injury. While it is true that physical therapy is beneficial in these situations, it is also important to know that it is an excellent way to prevent injuries, but also to prevent the consequences associated with many diseases. This last statement applies in particular to neurodegenerative diseases.
Neurodegenerative diseases: a definition
Neurodegenerative diseases are related to the degeneration, or death, of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain and spinal cord (nervous system). These are progressive pathologies, which can set in slowly and insidiously. Depending on the parts of the nervous system that are affected, their effects can be felt on several levels: mobility, motor skills, muscle capacity, memory, mental disorders, etc.
The neurodegenerative diseases that are best known and, unfortunately, most prevalent in the population are:
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Multiple sclerosis;
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease;
- Huntington’s disease.
Most of these diseases remain incurable to date, but preventive action can still be taken to slow their progress. Even today, too many people diagnosed with dementia see this as a fatality, pushing them towards physical inactivity and having an impact on the evolution of their symptoms. However, most of these people have an interest in incorporating some form of physical activity into their daily routine, especially if it is supervised by a health professional.
The relevance of physical therapy follow-up for neurodegenerative diseases
The physical therapist can intervene with people who suffer from the diseases mentioned above. Thanks to his skills, he is able to evaluate the functional limitations that are encountered in everyday life, that is, the clinical signs that are caused by the disease or by taking medication and their effects on the person’s quality of life. For a complete assessment, the physical therapist may consult other health professionals who work around the client, such as a doctor.
Once the stage of the disease is well known to the professional and the limitations encountered by the client are highlighted, he or she can propose an exercise program that takes these limitations into consideration. The goal of this program is always to minimize the difficulties encountered to allow the person to maintain maximum autonomy. This exercise program can have several purposes, including:
- The improvement of strength, flexibility and respiratory capacities, for better mobility;
- Mobilization of body parts or joints to prevent pain and the consequences of physical inactivity;
- Improved balance and stability, for the prevention of falls;
- The improvement of general physical abilities, for its beneficial effect on brain health.
In short, the physical therapist’s intervention aims, by improving physical abilities, to slow cognitive decline and other associated consequences. In this way, the patient is encouraged to maintain a good functional level and to continue to carry out daily activities and meet basic needs.
Clinique GO’s mobile physical therapists
The physical therapists on our mobile team are aware that the needs of people with dementia vary greatly depending on the stage of the disease. Thus, by meeting you at your home, they commit to take the time necessary to properly assess your condition and needs, and then set up a perfectly adapted intervention plan.
Our team is here to help you improve and maintain your quality of life!