OT Clinical Services

Parkinson’s OT Services

OT with Parkinson's patient.

Washington University Occupational Therapy offers rehabilitation services that are personalized to help you overcome barriers related to performing everyday activities that can be complicated by Parkinson’s disease. The goal of our program is to find the best solutions to support your independence at home and to maintain quality of life.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists work to break down barriers that limit your ability to do the things you want and need to do every day.  We do this by adapting tasks and the environment to help you perform activities more independently. Occupational therapy also provides education in self-management with chronic conditions like PD to address the skills needed to manage your condition on a daily basis.

Why is occupational therapy recommended for individuals with PD?

The neurologic changes that occur with PD can result in slowed movement, stiff joints, impaired coordination, forgetfulness and trouble concentrating, fatigue or lack of energy, impaired balance, tripping, and falls. All of these symptoms can lead to difficulties with accomplishing everyday tasks.

Occupational Therapy at Washington University:

Washington University’s Occupational Therapy program offers both traditional clinic appointments and in-home therapy visits. During the first visit, we do an evaluation to determine the areas in which you are experiencing difficulty. We do this through interviewing you and your family and/or care partners. We also assess the physical setup of your home and any resources available to you. We might also ask to observe you doing some of your normal daily activities or parts of activities to further assess your abilities. Then, we work with you to make a plan for how to address each of your personal goals. Occupational therapists also make recommendations and offer strategies that we believe will help you better manage living with PD as you age. Below is a list of common interventions.

  • Establishing a daily routine
  • Strategies to adapt self-care tasks like eating, grooming, dressing, and bathing
  • Strategies to support household management, including medication management and handwriting
  • Fatigue management
  • Exercise / activity participation
  • Fall prevention
  • Driving
  • Care partner training

Who can benefit from occupational therapy and when?

Anyone who is experiencing difficulty with performing daily activities can benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational therapists can assist individuals with Parkinson’s at any stage – it’s never too early. In fact, we encourage therapy services early in your diagnosis to help you maintain an active lifestyle while adjusting to changes in function caused by PD. Having an occupational therapy assessment several times throughout the course of the disease is not uncommon. Due to the progression of Parkinson’s and related changes in function overtime, therapists often reassess individuals to assist with adaptations to daily activity. Care partners can also benefit from working with an occupational therapist to determine the safest ways to assist your loved one with the activities they do every day and to address care partner health and well-being.

How to get started:

If you think you or your loved one might benefit from occupational therapy, talk to your physician and ask for a referral. Upon receipt of your referral, someone from the occupational therapy program will call you to set up an appointment at a time that is convenient for you. If you or your physician would like to learn more about Washington University’s Occupational Therapy Services, please contact our office at (314) 286-1669, or see our services at otservices.wustl.edu.