Neurological Disorders Orange City, FL

Neurological Disorders

Balance and Difficulty Walking

There are many different disorders and conditions that can contribute to walking difficulties. Walking requires an incredibly complex interaction between the nervous system and postural muscles. Without these components, your ability to walk is compromised.

Many people do not realize how compromised their balance is or their limitations with walking, until they are quite degraded. It is often a fall, trip, or loss of balance that is the wake up call to. In addition, the loss of being able to walk distances is a clear indicator that the balance and walking mechanisms are disrupted. Walking not only requires good balance, but the ability to know where your joints are in space (proprioception), and the ability to know how your joints are moving (kinesthesia), as well as good range of motion and strength.

Over time, or after an injury, walking and balancing can become difficult. With previous injuries, pain or neurological disorders, our walking pattern can also change. When walking patterns change, abnormal stresses and strains with everyday activities can be transmitted to areas it shouldn’t. For example, if you have knee pain and you begin to limp, the opposite hip and your spine now have to take double the weight. This can lead to pain and dysfunction in those areas. The good news is that if you have difficulty walking, you can be helped. Physical therapists are the experts uniquely trained to do so.

How therapy helps

One of the main specialties of physical therapy is helping people to walk normally. This takes a thorough evaluation of your walking patterns, posture, range of motion, strength, balance and coordination. Through this analysis, a treatment plan is then developed that will address your range of motion, pain, coordination, balance and strength. The end result is the ability to walk without the need of an assistive device such as a cane or walker, safely and smoothly. In cases with progressive diseases such as ALS, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, physical therapy is critical to maintaining function, independence and walking as long as possible. If your balance or walking is not what it used to be, call us today to discover how we can help you walk better!

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and the body’s ability to coordinate movement. Since Parkinson’s Disease affects many areas of the brain, symptoms can vary between individuals and progression can be either mild, moderate or aggressive. Parkinson’s Disease typically affects one’s ability to walk with slower movements (bradykinesia) and difficulty with starting or stopping walking. Movements also tend to become slower and tremors may develop in the hands. Muscles can become rigid, leading to loss of motion and poor posture. A dangerous symptom is called retropulsion, where the tendency of an individual is to fall backwards with little to no ability to protect oneself.

Speech can also be affected with Parkinson’s Disease, with words becoming slurred and slow due to poor activation of the mouth, tongue and throat muscles. Eating and drinking can also become challenging due to difficulty swallowing. Symptoms may also include difficulty with writing, with penmanship becoming illegible or very small.

How therapy helps

Physical, occupational and speech therapy are essential for people with Parkinson’s Disease. While there currently is not a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, a tremendous amount can be done to improve one’s function and maintain gains. In coordination with your physician, rehabilitation focuses on improving movement, safety, independence with activities, transfers, cognitive and speech / swallowing. Physical therapists focus on improving range of motion, strength, stamina, safety with transfers from low surfaces, posture and movement in patients with Parkinson’s.

Occupational therapists focus on movements of the upper extremities, cognitive improvements, coordination with dressing and caring for oneself, and adaptions to be independent as possible with daily living activities. Speech therapists focus on improving speech, safety with eating / drinking, cognitive abilities and improving writing. It is important to note that our rehabilitation professionals work together as a team to help you reach goals along with family training for attaining maximum independence.

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease that typically begins in the hands, feet and extremities, and progresses centrally. People may first discover that they have poor balance, difficulties walking,and tripping. Additionally, some may notice weakness in their extremities, and occasional muscle cramps.

As the disease progresses, it affects the ability to walk, use arms, speak, swallow and the muscles we use for breathing. Maintaining independence and function as long as possible is the goal of our rehabilitation team. Safety is critical to prevent secondary complications such as fractures and falls.

How therapy helps

Physical, occupational, and speech therapy typically coordinate as a team for ALS patients, depending on their severity of symptoms and progression of the disease. Physical therapy focuses on improving and maintaining range of motion, strength, stamina, walking and balance. In addition, our physical therapists will focus on making recommendations for adaptive equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, braces and other devices. The goal of physical therapy is to maintain safety when walking and independence for as long as possible.

Occupational therapists focus on helping ALS patients with their upper extremity use, working on strength, stamina, range of motion and function. Recommendations for adaptive equipment are grasping, reaching, and writing as a part of care. In addition, training and adaptation of daily living activities, like dressing, eating, cooking and work are modified as needed.

Speech therapists focus on the muscles of the throat, mouth, tongue, and breathing. This can help maintain safety with eating / drinking and improve communication abilities. It also focuses on making adaptations for speech, communicating, eating and drinking.

Although ALS is a progressive disease, the use of physical, occupational and speech therapy make a substantial difference in quality of life, maintaining independence, and function.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Depending on the site of a spinal cord injury, it affects various areas of the body. A spinal cord injury may be complete, causing full paralysis of the muscles below that level, or partial causing various symptoms or partial paralysis. With today’s technologies in medicine and rehabilitation, more and more spinal cord injury patients are experiencing gains like never before. The management of a spinal cord injury is a progressive affair from the hospital, to inpatient care, and finally in outpatient care.

Since the nerves are one of the slowest regenerating cells in the body, improvements can be made months, even years after the initial injury. Furthermore, areas that are paralyzed have a tendency to lose range of motion, atrophy and can affect posture. Maintaining posture and upper body strength is critical for spinal cord injury patients to assist with breathing and digestion. In addition, the ability to shift and move one’s body throughout the day is important to prevent pressure sores.

How therapy helps

Rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injuries can be a complex process, depending on the severity of the injury. Physical therapy plays an essential role in rehabilitating a person with a spinal cord injury. The goal of PT is to promote as much independent living as possible, maintain range of motion, improve strength in the upper body and postural muscles, fit and coordinate adaptive equipment, and work with training family or assistants in proper, safe transfers. Our physical therapists work closely with you and your family to perform thorough assessments of your capabilities and formulate a treatment plan that will maximize your function.

Occupational therapy plays an important role in adapting tools and equipment to enhance independence with life’s daily activities. It also works with the upper extremities and hands to improve grasping, writing and dexterity with normal activities.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is neurological disease that causes the body’s immune system to abnormally attack the covering of the nerve cells, called myelin. This causes scarring and decreases the nerve’s ability to transmit signals properly. The progression of MS is based on 4 different types of aggressiveness. Multiple sclerosis is categorized by bouts of activity, with periods of minimal to no activity, depending on the different type of MS you may be suffering from. Symptoms can vary person to person dramatically as different parts of the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves are affected, making no two cases alike.

Common symptoms of MS are fatigue, numbness or tingling in the face, body or extremities, weakness, dizziness or vertigo, pain, walking difficulties, loss of balance, bladder and bowel problems and emotional / cognitive changes.

Multiple sclerosis requires a multi-discipline approach with medical and rehabilitation management. The goal of helping MS is to decrease the severity of symptoms, make adaptive changes physically and in lifestyle to cope with the progression of the disease. Fatigue management and temperature management are critical components of managing MS.

How therapy helps

The rehabilitation process is critical to those suffering with MS. Physical therapy helps to address weakness, range of motion loss, balance issues, transfers and walking. Physical therapy can help significantly in improving function and independence in a person with MS. In addition, our physical therapists can help you with improving walking, balance and safety with daily movements. Furthermore, as needs change, we are with you every step of the way to teach you how to use assistive equipment such as canes and other devices.

Occupational therapy works closely with patients who have MS to help improve their quality of life. Occupational therapists evaluate the function and use of the hands and upper extremities. Furthermore, we help you evaluate the needs for adaptive techniques and equipment for work and everyday life activities. Occupational therapy can make a big difference in your quality of life.

Speech therapy may be required when speech, swallowing or cognition are effected. Speech therapy is important if these symptoms are present to promote safety with eating / drinking, improving speech communication and helping with cognitive tasks.

For more information, Contact Us at Orange City, FL center.

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