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Keywords:

  • Parkinson disease;
  • physical therapy;
  • review;
  • practice guideline;
  • community networks

Abstract

Even with optimal medical management using drugs or neurosurgery, patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are faced with progressively increasing mobility problems. For this reason, many patients require additional physical therapy. Here, we review the professional evolution and scientific validation of physical therapy in PD, and highlight several future challenges. To gain insight in ongoing, recently completed or published trials and systematic reviews, we performed a structured literature review and contacted experts in the field of physical therapy in PD. Following publication of the first controlled clinical trial in 1981, the quantity and quality of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of physical therapy in PD has evolved rapidly. In 2004 the first guideline on physical therapy in PD was published, providing recommendations for evidence-based interventions. Current research is aiming to gather additional evidence to support specific intervention strategies such as the prevention of falls, and to evaluate the implementation of evidence into clinical practice. Although research focused on physical therapy for PD is a relatively young field, high-quality supportive evidence is emerging for specific therapeutic strategies. We provide some recommendations for future research, and discuss innovative strategies to improve the organization of allied health care in PD, making evidence-based care available to all PD patients. © 2008 Movement Disorder Society