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People with Parkinson disease can MOVE!

People with Parkinson disease can MOVE!

Akinesia is a term typically used to describe the movement dysfunction observed in people with Parkinson disease. It is defined as a poverty of movement, an impairment or loss of the power to move, and a slowness in movement initiation. There is an observable loss of facial expression, loss of associated nonverbal communicative movements, loss of arm swing with gait, and overall small amplitude movements throughout all skeletal muscles in the body. The cause of this characteristic profile of movement is due to loss of dopamine production in the brain which causes a lack of cortical stimulation for movement.

If the loss of dopamine production in the brain causes this poverty of movement in all skeletal muscles the body, how does the pelvic floor function in the person with Parkinson disease and what should the pelvic floor rehabilitation professional know about treating the pelvic floor in this population of patients?

Let’s take a closer look referencing a very telling article about Parkinson disease and skeletal muscle function. In the Italian town of L’Aquila, a major devastating 6-point Richter scale earthquake occurred on April 6, 2009. 309 people died and there was destruction and collapse of many historical structures, some greater than 100 years old. The nearby movement disorder clinic had been following 31 Parkinson disease patients in the area, 17 of them higher functioning and the other 14 much lower functioning. In fact, of those 14, 10 of them were affected by severe freezing episodes with severe nighttime akinesia requiring assistance with bed mobility tasks, 1 was completely bedridden and the others with major fluctuations in motor performance. 13 of the 14 patients also had fluctuating cognitive functioning.

This devastating earthquake occurred at 3:30 am. All 14 of these patients were able to escape from their homes during or immediately following the event. Caregivers reported that in the majority of the cases, the person with Parkinson’s disease was the first one to be alerted to the earthquake, the first one to get out of the house, ability to alert relatives to run for safety, physically assisting relatives out of the collapsing buildings, and in some cases independently escaping down 1-2 flights of stairs.

Paradoxical kinesia is thought to be the reason for this all but sudden ability to move normally within the presence of an immediate threat to their life and lives of loved ones. Paradoxical kinesia is defined as “a sudden and brief period of mobility typically seen in response to emotional and physical stress in patient’s with advanced idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.” There are a few mechanisms hypothesized to play a role, such as, adrenaline, dopaminergic reserves activating the flight reaction, and compensatory nearby cerebellar circuitry.

There is no pathological evidence that in Parkinson disease there is any break in the continuity of the motor system. The neurologic pathways are all intact and the ability to produce muscle power is retained however requires a strong base of clinic knowledge of the disease to help these patients activate these intact motor pathways. I look forward to sharing the neurologic basis of these deficits in Parkinson disease and strategies in pelvic floor rehab to do just that!

Erica Vitek, a specialist in treating patients with neurologic dysfunction, is the author and instructor of Neurologic Conditions and Pelvic Floor Rehab, taking place September 14-16, 2018 in Grand Rapids, MI.


Bonanni, L., Thomas, A., Anzellotti, F., Monaco, D., Ciccocioppo, F., Varanese, S., Bifolchetti, S., D’Amico, M.C., Di Iorio, A. & Onofrj, M. (2010). Protracted benefit from paradoxical kinesia in typical and atypical parkinsonisms. Neurological sciences, 31(6), 751-756.

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Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Remote Course

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Self-Hosted (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Fort Smith, AR Satellite Location (CANCELLED)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
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Pelvic Floor Capstone - Lisle, IL Satellite Location

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Pelvic Floor Capstone - Little Rock, AR Satellite Location

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Pelvic Floor Capstone - Richmond, VA Satellite Location

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Location: Pivot Physical Therapy

Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health - Remote Course

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Smyrna, TN Satellite Location

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Benchmark Physical Therapy - Smyrna, TN

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Self-Hosted (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Niles, IL Satellite Location

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Advocate Lutheran General Rehabilitation

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Laredo, TX Satellite Location (CANCELED)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Ruth B Cowl

Pelvic Floor Capstone - New York City, NY Satellite Location

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: KNOSIS Center for Physiotherapy & Wellness

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Bedford, TX Satellite Location

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Beyond Therapy and Wellness PLLC

Breathing and the Diaphragm: Orthopedic Therapists - Remote Course

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Laguna Niguel, CA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Rausch Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Virginia Beach, VA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Southeastern Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Troy, NY Satellite Location

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: The Green Room Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Elkhorn, NE Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
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Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Sandy, OR Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Ascent Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Capstone - Self-Hosted

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Birmingham, AL Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: TherapySouth

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Self-Hosted

Oct 23, 2021 - Oct 24, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Marietta, GA Satellite Course

Nov 6, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021
Location: Southern Pelvic Health

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Self-Hosted

Nov 6, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - West Hills, CA Satellite Course (SOLD OUT)

Nov 6, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021
Location: Touch of Life PT

Osteoporosis Management - Remote Course

Nov 6, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course