Advance with MUSC Health

How Physical Therapy Can Effectively Address Parkinson’s Disease

Advance With MUSC Health
February 06, 2023
Person holding their right wrist with their left hand.

By Nick Everetts, DPT, MUSC Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Services

Some experts estimate more than 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive disease that affects our central nervous system and the body’s ability to control movements, which may lead to shaking in the hands or legs, or difficulty starting or stopping movements. The disease will lead to other impairments, including significant stiffness and balance impairments.

Help with Parkinson’s Disease
Physical therapy can assist with improving the quality of life for those who have Parkinson’s Disease, with interventions offering an effective strategy for managing motor symptoms in patients who suffer.

What Happens with Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease can cause movements to become smaller and slower than normal, affecting balance, coordination and posture. The good news? Utilizing physical therapy can help improve a person’s balance, control their motor coordination, improve posture and help to normalize their movements.

MUSC & Parkinson’s Disease
Specifically, MUSC Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in Florence, SC, offers a Parkinson’s Disease specialized program called the LSVT BIG program. This program has been proven to reduce someone’s fall risk, improve their gait speed and improve the patient’s posture.3 The program can effectively recalibrate the brain to improve the processing of information as well as movements.4

Physical Therapy & Parkinson’s Disease
Physical therapy for Parkinson’s Disease has proven to improve the quality of life for those with the disease as well as their caregivers. It can not only improve motor symptoms but can also reduce cognitive decline for these patients.5

We Want to Help!
The disease is a complex and complicated progressive disorder, but appropriate exercises and medications can reduce the effects it can have on our bodies. As a Parkinson’s certified physical therapist, I have been able to treat many people with Parkinson’s Disease. I decided to study and understand this program because I saw how great the results could be.

If you, or a loved one, would like to find out more about how physical therapy addresses Parkinson’s Disease, please visit your local neurologist, or call the MUSC Health Florence Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation Services clinic at 843-661-4360 for more information.


1. Ritter VC, Bonsaksen T. Improvement in quality of life following a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program for patients with Parkinson's disease. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2019 Mar 20;12:219-227. 

2. Álvarez-Bueno, Celia PhD1,2; Deeks, Jonathan J. PhD3; Cavero-Redondo, Iván PhD1,4; Jolly, Kate MD, PhD3; Torres-Costoso, Ana I. PhD1; Price, Malcolm PhD3; Fernandez-Rodriguez, Rubén MSc1; Martínez-Vizcaíno, Vicente MD, PhD1,5. Effect of Exercise on Motor Symptoms in Patients With Parkinson's Disease: A Network Meta-analysis. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: August 12, 2021 - Volume - Issue 

3. Isaacson S, O'Brien A, Lazaro JD, Ray A, Fluet G. The JFK BIG study: the impact of LSVT BIG® on dual task walking and mobility in persons with Parkinson's disease. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Apr;30(4):636-641 

4. Peterka, M., Odorfer, T., Schwab, M. et al. LSVT-BIG therapy in Parkinson’s disease: physiological evidence for proprioceptive recalibration. BMC Neurol 20, 276 (2020). 

5. Avenali, M., Picascia, M., Tassorelli, C. et al. Evaluation of the efficacy of physical therapy on cognitive decline at 6-month follow-up in Parkinson disease patients with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Aging Clin Exp Res 33, 3275–3284 (2021).