The Importance of a Transdisciplinary Team in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

The Importance of a Transdisciplinary Team in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the part of the brain essential for movement. People with Parkinson’s disease can present with tremors, a forward flexed posture, bradykinesia (slow movements), muscle rigidity, and issues with walking and balance. Many people with Parkinson’s seek care from health care providers who specialize in the treatment of neurological disorders.

A transdisciplinary team is an approach in which members from multiple disciplines take part in direct patient care and effectively communicate between one another regarding what is best for the patient. Some health care providers that are essential in a Parkinson’s team include a neurologist or movement disorder specialist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. These multiple disciplines are crucial in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease to improve quality of life.

Physical therapists can help people with Parkinson’s by improving walking, which could focus on balance or the quality of their walking.. A physical therapist’s goal for people with Parkinson’s is to reduce fall risk and improve all aspects of mobility. Occupational therapy focuses on improving activities of daily living (ADLs) and providing ways to make ADLs easier for the individual if appropriate. Occupational therapists may also focus on fine motor tasks that people with Parkinson’s may face, such as buttoning shirts or handwriting. Speech therapists will often provide care for people with Parkinson’s who have a change in the quality of their voice, such as a softening or a reduction in volume. These health care professionals can also work on cognitive training, as many people with Parkinson’s experience a certain degree of cognitive deficit. These different disciplines often work together to optimize patient care, whether it is through the use of cognitive training with walking/balance activities or by ensuring the correct sequencing of sitting/standing from a chair is practiced during a speech therapy session.

A transdisciplinary team usually begins when an individual seeks out medical advice from their physician about symptoms they may be experiencing.. At this time, the patient’s physician may consult a neurologist or movement disorder specialist to further assess the patient. After a thorough exam is performed, if one of these health care professionals suspect the patient has Parkinson’s disease, they will prescribe the individual with medication to improve symptoms. They may also refer the individual to a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or a speech therapist, depending on the patient’s symptoms. If an individual is referred to one or two of these specialties, they may refer for additional therapy services based on the therapist’s clinical judgment. Therapy and exercise are crucial for individuals with Parkinson’s, which is why it is important to search for therapists who specialize in the treatment of the disease. People with Parkinson’s disease benefit from continuous bouts of therapy services throughout their lifetime; therefore, it is important to find a cohesive group of health care professionals who can work together to improve the individual’s overall quality of life.

Learn more about treatment options for Parkinson’s disease at Allied Services.

About the Author: Jacqueline Pearson, PT, DPT, is a Licensed Physical Therapist at Allied Services Wilkes-Barre Rehab Center. She specializes in balance and vestibular rehab, brain injury, concussion, gait disorders, neurological conditions, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and stroke recovery. Jacqueline has specializations in PWR (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery) and LSVT Big, for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. She leads the monthly Parkinson’s Support Group at Heinz Rehab Hospital.