Early Interventions in Parkinson’s Disease: Physical Therapy

In October, physical therapist Julia Hurtado presented her lecture “Early Interventions in Parkinson’s Disease” live and via webinar, and she has now made the webinar available for viewing for those who missed it.

Physical Therapy for Parkinson's DiseaseParkinson’s disease is a movement disorder, and anti-Parkinson’s drugs merely mask the symptoms as the dopamine-producing neurons that control the automatic movements we take for granted slowly dissipate. Movement impairments in the initial stages of the disease are not always obvious. By not engaging a physical therapist specializing in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, like Julia, as part of their medical team, people with Parkinson’s often miss the window of opportunity to address these impairments early.

A physical therapist is uniquely trained to design an exercise routine that targets your specific motor impairments. Physical therapists also have an opportunity to provide frequent, direct feedback to help make you aware of how to exercise most effectively and safely. After completing therapy, you will be better equipped to participate regularly and effectively in community-based exercise programs. Regular participation in an appropriate exercise program will make you better equipped to handle–and maybe even slow down–the inevitable progression of Parkinson’s disease. The PD Gladiators Metro Atlanta Fitness Network offers group exercise classes adapted for PD by instructors trained by physical therapists and other experienced clinicians. These low-cost programs are designed to combat PD using all four basic exercise groups: cardiovascular, strength training, flexibility and neuromotor.

As Julia recommends, we believe neurologists should refer all of their PD patients to a physical therapist for a baseline evaluation immediately after diagnosis and for periodic reevaluations thereafter. Please visit our Physical Therapists page for some tips on how to find a PT specializing in Parkinson’s disease near you.

Click Here to View Webinar

(Note: only a preview will open in your browser; download the file from the top right of your screen and open the file to view the entire webinar)

About Julia Hurtado

JuliaHurtadoJulia Hurtado is a physical therapist at WellStar Kennestone Outpatient Neurorehab in Marietta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 and went on to earn her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Emory University in 2010. She is a Board-certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist, an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor, and is certified in vestibular rehabilitation and LSVT BIG. Julia is also the recipient of the Emory University DPT Leadership Award and the Emory University DPT Research Award. Her specialties include dizziness and balance disorders, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, brain injury, and amputees. She is also passionate about program development and clinical education and mentorship. Before joining WellStar’s team, Julia worked for Grady Health System, where she treated patients on the ortho/trauma unit, the neuro ICU, and the Marcus Stroke Institute. She has also worked at Grady’s Health and Rehab Center and at the Shepherd Center. Julia has also participated in service learning with the South Georgia Farmworkers Project and at Las Obras Sociales in Antigua, Guatemala. Her philosophy on patient care is to empower her patients to actively participate in their recovery following neurological injury. Julia states, “I try to foster an environment of education, which allows my patients to take ownership of their rehabilitation and become their own advocates.” When she’s not treating patients, Julia enjoys traveling and playing outside with her daughter Ellie, her corgi Chelsea, and her husband Dave.

3 responses on Early Interventions in Parkinson’s Disease: Physical Therapy

  1. Mark and Roger, thank you for your encouragement and for helping to spread the word about the benefits of physical therapy and exercise. Happy holidays!

  2. Thank you for all of your work. I hope to be able to meet you sometime. Have a wonderful Christmas season 🙂

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