Addressing Incontinence Concerns with Parkinson’s Disease: March 24, 2019

Tremors, slow movement, and loss of balance are typically the symptoms we associate with Parkinson’s disease—but physical therapist Kristen Parisi says the most common symptom of Parkinson’s disease is often overlooked. “Most people just think it’s a regular part of aging. They don’t realize that it’s a common symptom. It’s actually one of the most common symptoms related to that diagnosis, and they can manage it if they actually talk to their doctor about it and even have physical therapy to address some of the problems that they are having,” explained Kristen Parisi, a physical therapist with Lee Health.

Urinary and bowel concerns can happen at any stage of the diagnosis. Once addressed, patients can improve their symptoms through diet, exercise, and physical therapy. “As physical therapists, we treat things related to muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, so I’m looking at all of that. We look at the pelvic floor muscles, teaching somebody how to engage them properly,” said Parisi.

Physical therapy can teach patients strategies and exercises to better manage their symptoms. “In the elderly, dehydration is a really big thing that you have to be careful with. So the first thing I usually teach is to increase their fluid intake, which does seem counterintuitive to the problem, but it actually helps as you are in the training process for the bladder, keeping it hydrated is actually an important part of the process,” she said.

Providing patients with the education and support they need, so they don’t feel alone in their journey. “There’s a lot of patient education that goes into it, learning bladder irritancy, urge suppression strategies, knowing how to get on a voiding schedule so that we can maintain regularity for both the bowel and the bladder,” said Parisi.

A common problem that can be managed with physical therapy.