How Physical Therapists Help People Manage Parkinson Disease

A Patient Guide

Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Last Updated: May 17, 2022



Many skilled health care providers specialize in treating people with Parkinson disease (PD). New guidelines recommend a team approach to care. A team approach means therapy and other health care providers, physicians, and community-based exercise coaches work with an individual — and each other — to coordinate care. This is called an integrated care model.

The care team for people with Parkinson disease should include:
  • Physical therapists (PTs), who focus on physical function, strength, and balance required for optimal movement at home, at work, and for leisure activities.
  • Occupational therapists, who focus on everyday activities such as personal care, eating and preparing food, writing, and driving.
  • Speech therapists, who focus on the voice, swallowing, and cognition.
  • Movement disorder neurologists, who help people manage their disease with medicine and surgery, and work with the rehabilitation teams.
  • Exercise professionals, who are community-based exercise coaches with a background in personal training or group exercise instruction.