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Movement Disorders Program

  • More than 1.5 million Americans suffer from Parkinson's Disease (PD), a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impacts an individual's motor skills, speech and cognitive function. Often characterized by the presence of tremors, PD will present a wide range of challenges: from rigidity or stiffness in the limbs to problems with posture and balance, tremors, fatigue, mood, swallowing and memory. 
    Each of the estimated 60,000 persons diagnosed with PD every year will experience different symptoms and will benefit from different treatment options as the disease progresses. For that reason, a multi-disciplinary approach, including physical, occupational and speed therapies, is most effective. At Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital, our team of allied health professionals works closely with a patient's physician to best meet individual physical, intellectual and emotional needs, optimize function and encourage independence.


    How can our movement disorders program help?

    • Physical therapy performs an initial evaluation on each patient that includes a strength and flexibility assessment as well as a comprehensive falls and balance assessment. Treatment in our program focuses on repetitive practice to improve speed and quality of movement that is often impaired in PD patients. While focusing on each patient’s individual goals, patients will use full body exercise and repetitive practice to improve their movement quality, improve their independence, decrease their fall risk and improve their quality of life. 
    • Occupational therapy targets the individual's ability to perform daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming or preparing a meal. Our occupational therapists work closely with our PD patients, providing a range of therapies to help improve or maintain upper extremity range of motion, prevent contractures through stretching and splinting, strengthen fine motor coordination and improve apraxia. In addition, we introduce new and more accommodating ways for individuals to care for themselves and remain as independent as possible.
    • Speech therapy focuses on the dynamics of speaking, addressing problems with volume, intonation and clarity that individuals with Parkinson's Disease often experience. Improvements may be seen in speech and voice quality, as well as facial expression. In addition, speech therapists will work with patients to help improve impaired swallow function and saliva management.
    Patients who may benefit:
    • Our program is designed for patients will all types of movement disorders, not just PD. Our therapists are specially-trained to assess and treat movement disorders that result from Parkinson’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and many other conditions that impact function.
    • Are you unsure if you will benefit? A two- or three-treatment session trial is adequate to determine appropriateness for our program.