Your Comprehensive Care Team
The structure and orientation of your comprehensive care team will vary, and its members may change as your disease progresses.
One thing is certain: you, your family and loved ones are the most critical members of the care team. Your active participation is the key to living well with Parkinson's.
Your team members
Doctors, nurse specialists and physician assistants play a significant role in long-term follow-up and complement your physician's care. They are also an important resource for counseling, education and long-term management and can be a source of support for you and your caregiver(s).
Physical therapists help you address issues such as strength, endurance, movement control, flexibility, gait, balance, freezing and fall prevention. Your physical therapist can custom-tailor a home exercise program to improve mobility problems and prevent or reduce the impact of future anticipated problems—especially early in the disease. Caregivers are often included to help with everyday activities such as getting in and out of chairs, beds and cars.
Occupational therapists help you manage everyday chores at home, at work or in the community. They play a key role in home safety, offering practical advice and devices to help with daily activities. Occupational therapists can also assess your work environment and the use of technology. They often work with you on cognitive training, driver's evaluation, care-giving needs and time and disease management.
Speech and swallowing pathologists can help you with voice problems, especially if treatment is initiated soon after the emergence of soft or monotone voice patterns. A speech therapist manages all aspects of communication, including nonverbal communication such as facial expression. A swallowing specialist can evaluate and treat swallowing problems using a combination of modified diet, altered swallowing techniques and exercises.
Social workers and counselors focus on the psychosocial and behavioral aspects of disease, including coping therapies and family needs. They will help to identify any home health needs, disability and work-related concerns, and community resources. They'll also determine the need for hospice care, respite services, assisted living and nursing homes.
Dietitians can help with unwanted weight loss or weight gain, constipation, vitamin deficiency and supplementation, protein-related medication interactions and dehydration. They may also be able to recommend dietary changes to reduce any swallowing problems.
Neuropsychologists evaluate your cognitive (thinking) skills using tests to identify and measure cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Based on findings from these tests, they can put in place a treatment plan based on enhancing cognitive strengths and working with areas that need improvement.
Creative therapists include therapists in art, music, dance and recreation who use creative expression to influence physical and mental wellness and healing. Recreational therapy can also help you enhance your hobbies and improve the quality of leisure time.
Spiritual and community leaders are available through community programs and can be a valuable source of strength and support. If your community has a senior center, or a wellness or exercise program—take advantage of it! If your community lacks specific programs for Parkinson's, look for a support group or work with others to create your own programs.
How do you find a team?
If you live locally, the resources of the Booth Gardner Parkinson's Care Center are here for you. Call us at (425) 899-3123 to make an appointment.
If you live at a distance from the Center, we offer 2-to-3 day comprehensive visits. Our team members will make recommendations that your local physician can use for additional treatment closer to home.
If you cannot travel to our Center or another movement disorder center, you and your family can still assemble your own team. Start by prioritizing your problems and concerns. Then identify the type of specialist from the list below that can best help you solve problems. To find a Parkinson's specialist, ask your doctor for a referral or join a Parkinson's support group and ask for recommendations.
Foundations and educational resources