Parkinson's Disease

As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) each year.

PD is a progressive disorder involving the nervous system, which affects movements and coordination. As the disease progresses, it may result in tremors, slowed movement patterns, muscular stiffness and impaired balance. Recent research in both humans and animals is showing that exercise may not only help with movement, but also may also prevent or delay the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

Two methods that Willow Grove/Hatboro Physical Therapy clinicians are certified in to address Parkinson’s Disease are LSVT BIG and PWR! Parkinson Wellness Recovery.

PWR! Parkinson Wellness Recovery is an approach that utilizes current scientific research. It is a personalized treatment addressing slowness of movement, stiffness, postural instability/falls and freezing.  The core of the PWR program is 4 moves: PWR Up, Rock, Twist, and Step. These moves are incorporated into different challenge levels and emphasize large intense movements that target posture, trunk flexibility, weight shifting, and walking.

LSVT BIG requires a significant amount of effort from the person with Parkinson’s disease. There are 16 sessions: 4 days each week for 4 weeks. Sessions are 1 hour with little to no rest periods. There is mandatory daily homework.  The program focuses on both improving walking and a personal goal, which the patient chooses.

In addition, physical therapists are movement and exercise specialists.  People with Parkinson’s will benefit with the knowledge a therapist has to design the best exercise or gym program possible for a person with PD.  Some of the people we treat with PD will follow up every six to twelve months to insure they are focusing on the best exercise program possible. 

Exercise Class for People with Parkinson's

We are pleased to offer a group exercise class for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

It is held at the Hatboro Physical Therapy location on Wednesdays & Fridays from 12 – 1 pm.

Please call Hatboro PT (215 – 394 – 5116) or e-mail Anne ( to register.

The fee is $120/4 weeks (or $20/class).

Take a look at the team!


From a WGPT patient with Parkinson's Disease: 

I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in November of 2012. I did not have the tremors. My most prominent symptom was severe stiffness of my left leg. I began therapy at Willow Grove Physical Therapy in January of 2014.  I was treated by Margaret Fitzpatrick and Julie Sergio. I am still taking therapy there  two times per week. Therfore, I have had ample time to see, first hand, their professional practices and to experience the way that they treat their patients. I can say, without reservation, that my treatment has been excellent, and their handling of  a difficult case like Parkinson's has been done with compassion  and understanding, so that I am completely comfortable and very much at ease with all of my sessions. I really do  look forward to each session. My session begins with stretching of my hamstrings and quads,, done by the therapist.Then I am given a massage of my neck, shoulders,upper and lower back. Then I am given stretches of my upper and mid back.  Next are balance exercises, followed by a series of "Big Movements" and some standing stretches. Next are specific walking movments that consist of correct form walking, side stepping, turning and jogging. We also practice the correct way to climb and descend stairs. About three months ago we started boxing. The therapist uses mits to catch my punches as we work through a series of one/two combinations, hooks, uppercuts, and backhands. I throw a  total of 320 punches in about 10 minutes, and I work up quite a sweat. We have now incorporated forced excercsing  into my program. Using a recumbent bike, I start with 10 minutes of warm up followed by alternating one minute of 80 rpm and with one minute at 60 rpm. So far I am up to 10 minutes of 80 rpm and 10 minutes of 60 rpm. My goal is 40 minutes of forced exercise. When I am done with this exercise, I can walk normally without any dragging of my left leg. The entire time  I am supervised by either Julie or Margaret, who  provide  immediate feedback on my form, or whether I need to make any adjustments in my cadence, etc. Since I am now well into my second consecutive  year, there is  the question of whether the therapy is helping  and whether I  should continue taking it  at the center instead at home. Parkinsons is a progressive disease, whose symptoms are totally fickle. So the symptoms become worse as time goes on, and they vary in severity from day to day. I had deep brain  stimulation surgery in September of 2015 to hopefully improve  these symptoms, however, I have not had a lot of sustained success so far from this surgery. For me, the therapy that I get at Willow Grove PT, is absolutely necessary in order to keep me in generally good physical condition, but just as important, to keep my outlook positive and my hopes high. Any improvement that I have achieved is due to the work at Willow Grove P.T. The boxing and forced cycling have become important factors in these areas, and I cannot do  these at home. Also,the encouragement provided by Julie and Margaret is powerful medicine, and is perhaps the most important thing of all. My five star rating comes without reservation. - H.M.

Check out some of his boxing routines: