The Parkinson’s Interdisciplinary Program (PIP) at Northwest Hospital provides a comprehensive approach to managing the symptoms of the disease. We individually tailor this outpatient program to the abilities and needs of each patient. Our goals are to maximize physical skills, enhance vocal and cognitive skills, improve safety and enable people with Parkinson’s to live as independently as possible.

A dedicated, interdisciplinary team of medical professionals is involved in the evaluation and treatment of each Parkinson’s patient. A licensed physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech language pathologist assess each patient, then customize a treatment plan that addresses all aspects of the patient’s condition and provides a complete picture of that patient’s unique needs and abilities.

This initial evaluation may last up to three hours depending upon which therapies a patient might need.

Physical therapy works to improve balance, gait, posture, mobility, strength and flexibility. Assessments include evaluation of symptom severity and balance and mobility function tests

Speech/Language Services focus on voice, speech, swallowing and cognitive/communication skills. Assessments utilize computerized analysis of vocal quality, loudness, pitch and speech intelligibility. We also evaluate swallowing through clinical assessment and/or using videofluoroscopic testing. We also assess learning skills, memory function, concentration and problem solving.

Occupational therapy improves the ability to perform daily living activities, as well as higher living skills such as household tasks, meal preparation and handwriting. Evaluations determine the basic ability to function in these activities, particularly as they are affected by upper body rigidity, tremors and exceptionally slow movements.

Treatments Options
Treatments address specific needs of patient and their caregivers, and may include:

  • Balance exercises
  • Introduction to adaptive devices to simplify self-care
  • Posture awareness and improvement
  • Lee Silverman Voice Treatment Program® by certified staff to improve speech volume
  • Safety awareness
  • Gait (walking) training
  • Speech and voice exercises for articulation, pitch and rate control
  • Strength and flexibility exercises
  • Techniques for daily activities, such as dressing, grooming, bathing and eating
  • Management of swallowing problems
  • Methods to simplify kitchen activities
  • Handwriting techniques
  • Strategies to enhance cognitive and communication skills
  • Functional mobility training, such as rising from chair and getting in and out of bed

Education is also an important part of the program. Therapists will provide and recommend a wide variety of information and resources that can help patients manage common problem areas.