Occupational Therapy Benefits On Patient With Parkinsons Disease

This article was reviewed by Lindsey A, DPT.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

It is a chronic progressive neurological disease that is linked to decreased dopamine production in the substantia nigra and presents typically with symptoms of tremor of resting muscles, rigidity, slowness of movement, impaired balance, and a shuffling gait.

What are the Characteristics of Parkinson’s Disease?

Movement related symptoms (motor) include flexed forward posture, shuffling steps, reduced arm swing while walking, impaired balance, tremor, and bradykinesia (2018). In addition, Parkinson’s disease can present with non-motor symptoms including apathy, depression, constipation, sleep behavior disorders, loss of sense of smell and cognitive impairment. All these symptoms can cause difficulty with ADLs i.e bathing, toileting, dressing, grooming, and eating in addition to other functional tasks. This decreased ability to participate in daily life tasks is therefore the reason for an OT referral.

How can Occupational Therapy help?

In addition to physical exercises that increase flexibility, motor coordination, and strength, occupational therapists often recommend interventions or modifications that can enable individuals to perform ADL’s with increased independence and confidence (2018).

OT Modifications/Interventions:

  • Simplifying activities by breaking complex actions into simple tasks
  • Arranging items to reduce situations that involve time pressure, for example using a bedside commode for night time to prevent falls and increase safety
  • Modify the environment by removing throw rugs to prevent falls
  • Changing the time, nature, and duration of an activity, i.e performing tasks
    seated to conserve energy and increase safety

Adaptive Equipment Recommendations:

  • OT can recommend equipment to increase independence with ADLs.
  • Tremors can cause difficulty with functional activities including eating, grooming, dressing. OT can suggest weighted utensils or LifeWare utensils to decrease tremors when eating (2001)

Suggest dressing aides including sock aides, reachers, and button aides:

  • Research finds that having Parkinson’s can lead to decreased independence with functional activities and ADLs. It also concludes that occupational therapy interventions can increase safety and independence with daily tasks through exercise, education in compensatory strategies, and environmental modifications (2018).


Doucet B.M, Blanchard M. Occupational Performance and Functional Outcomes in People With Parkinson’s Disease. American Journal of Occupational Therapy , 2018 Nov.
Available from: https://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=2715043&resultClick=3

Murphy S. Tickle-Degnen L. The Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy–Related Treatments for Persons With Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analytic Review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2001 Aug.
Available from: https://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1869012

How Outreach Can Help

We provide in-home Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to individuals that have a difficult time getting/going to an out-patient rehabilitation facility on a consistent basis, prefer not to go to a facility, or those that are more effectively treated within their home.

We also have an out-patient clinic at 1110 2nd Avenue in the Sutton Place/UES area where we provide therapy for those who are adamant about receiving care in a clinic setting. Our evaluations are 45 minutes and treatments are one-to-one with an ample amount of treatment time per client (no double bookings allowed.)