Occupational Therapy & Parkinson's Disease

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Society (PDS) (2006), Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological condition affecting the pathways in the brain concerned with the control of movement.   PD occurs as a result of a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain known as the Substantia Nigra.   These cells are responsible for producing a chemical known as Dopamine, which enables messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement.   With the reduction of dopamine-producing cells, these parts of the brain are unable to function normally.
  Beattie and Harrison state in Turner et al (2002) that PD is characterised by tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia/hypokinesia and postural instability.   According to Jones and Playfer in Stokes (2004) the diagnosis of PD depends on the recognition of at least two of these clinical features.   Beattie and Harrison in Turner et al (2002, pg.602) explain that progression is usually slow, enabling the person time to adjust to changes, however “the condition invariably leads to significant problems with functional mobility, occupational performance and social roles.
  According to Jones and Playfer in Stokes (2004), ‘tremor’ is defined as an alternating movement commonly seen in the upper limb as a reciprocal movement of thumb and forefinger (also known as a ‘pill-rolling’ tremor), with the frequency of 4-6Hz.   According to Lindsay and Bone (2004) this tremor occurs at rest, improves with movement and disappears whilst sleeping.   Beattie and Harrison in Turner et al (2002) add that anxiety and fatigue can aggravate these tremors.   They explain that as the condition progresses, the tremor may affect other parts of the body.  
  Beattie and Harrison in Turner et al (2002) state that ‘rigidity’ is the term used to describe an increase in muscle tone, leading to a resistance to passive movement throughout the range of motion.   It can be described as ‘lead pipe rigidity’ when sustained resistance is felt (e.g....