MENU

Freecall Infoline

1800 644 189

Professional Support

It is important for people living with Parkinson’s to be proactive in the management of their condition. However, they do not have to face this challenge alone. There are a number of health professionals that can help people with Parkinson’s along the way. Building a supportive health care team can greatly assist in managing the challenges of Parkinson’s.

All health professionals have their own area of specialty and can help you manage different aspects of the condition. 

Some of the main professions involved in managing Parkinson’s are:

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist may be able to refer you to a therapist. Please speak to them before you start any course of therapy 
  • Contact the Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team on 1800 644 189 for more information about the health services and professionals located near you
  • Accessing professional support under Medicare may also be available to you

Parkinson’s Nurse

A Parkinson’s nurse has specialist experience, knowledge and skills in the field of Parkinson’s. They work closely with neurologists to ensure effective medical management of symptoms related to Parkinson’s. 

Sometimes you may also hear a Parkinson’s nurse called a movement disorder nurse.

How a Parkinson’s nurse can help 

In the initial stages of Parkinson’s, a Parkinson’s nurse can provide advice and support to help you come to terms with the diagnosis. They can educate you and your family about the various symptoms of Parkinson’s and can suggest strategies to manage symptoms. As Parkinson’s progresses they can offer guidance on managing medications. A Parkinson’s nurse can also refer you to other health care professionals for more specialist advice.

Seeing a Parkinson’s nurse

Unfortunately, there are very few Parkinson’s nurses in Victoria. However, Parkinson’s Victoria is committed to lobbying the Victoria Government to increase funding for Parkinson’s nurses.

In Melbourne, there are several experienced nurses working in neurology clinics. There is also a Parkinson’s nurse working within the team at Parkinson’s Victoria. For residents of regional areas, there is a Parkinson’s nurse working in the Mildura region and another in the Goulburn Valley.

Support for you

  • Your specialist may work alongside a Parkinson’s nurse, and recommend a consultation
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about Parkinson’s nurses throughout Victoria
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists use exercise and other forms of physical therapy to help keep people mobile when they are affected by a long-term condition, such as Parkinson’s. If you care for someone with Parkinson’s you can also see a physiotherapist. They will help you take good care of yourself, as well as the person you look after.

How physiotherapy can help 

When you see a physiotherapist they will assess you to see how Parkinson’s affects your physical movement. They will then help you to manage any problems you might have. This can be through exercise or other treatments.

The physiotherapist may:

  • Recommend exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility
  • Help you maintain your fitness
  • Work with you to improve balance and prevent falls
  • Help with pain relief

Accessing physiotherapy

Most people diagnosed with Parkinson’s will see a physiotherapist at some stage throughout the course of their condition. Physiotherapy can be useful at all stages of the condition. You can also see one if you care for someone with Parkinson’s.

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a suitable physiotherapist
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about physiotherapists that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists are health professionals who can help people with Parkinson’s stay independent for longer and carry on doing the activities that are important in their lives. They do this by giving advice on how to manage a wide range of everyday tasks, life and work skills, and hobbies. They can also recommend ways to make the home and workplace safer and easier to cope with.

How occupational therapy can help

If you have Parkinson’s, you may have problems with everyday tasks such as dressing or getting in and out of the shower. An occupational therapist will help you manage your life more easily.

The occupational therapist may:

  • Suggest easier ways to do tasks that are difficult for you
  • Recommend changes to make your home safer, such as handrails
  • Recommend mobility equipment or aids
  • Help you keep up hobbies and leisure interests
  • Help you find ways to continue work/parkinsons-and-you/workinging

Accessing occupational therapy

Most people with Parkinson’s will not be assessed by an occupational therapist until their symptoms start to interfere with everyday activities. However, it is recommend that people with Parkinson’s should see an occupational therapist when they are first diagnosed and at regular intervals afterwards. 

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a suitable occupational therapist 
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about occupational therapists that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Speech Pathology

Speech pathologists are health professionals who can help make communication easier for people with Parkinson’s. They can also help with swallowing problems. They specialise in all areas of communication, including facial expressions, body language, speech and fluency.

Speech pathologists are also sometimes referred to as speech and language therapists.

How speech pathology can help 

Parkinson’s can make it hard for people to communicate. A speech pathologist can help you overcome communication problems such as slurred or unsteady speech. They can also try to stop new problems from developing.

The speech pathologist may:

  • Suggest exercises and techniques to strengthen your voice
  • Help you control your facial expression
  • Help you with swallowing problems 
  • Suggest communication aids if talking has become very difficult for you

Accessing speech pathology

A large portion of people with Parkinson’s will develop problems with voice, speech and swallowing at some stage throughout the course of the disease. Addressing problems early is the key. It is recommended that people with Parkinson’s should see a speech pathologist at the earliest sign of change. 

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a suitable speech pathologist
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about speech pathologists that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Nutrition and Dietetics

Dietitians are health professionals who can advise on a healthy diet and specific dietary needs. They regularly provide advice on how people can maintain a healthy body weight.

They may also liaise with a speech pathologist regarding problems with eating and swallowing.

How nutrition and dietetics can help 

There are many reasons why someone living with Parkinson’s might benefit from seeing a dietitian. One of the main reasons is that many people with Parkinson’s lose weight as a result of the movement symptoms. Poor appetite and inadequate food intake can also lead to weight loss in Parkinson’s. Another consideration is how foods can interfere with medications. For instance high protein meals can interfere with Levodopa absorption. For more information on these issues, please visit the diet section of our website.

The dietitian may:

  • Suggest eating choices to ensure a balanced and healthy diet
  • Help you coordinate your medications with your meals
  • Give advice about high-energy foods needed to meet your energy demands and avoid unwanted weight loss
  • Give advice about foods to maintain bone strength
  • Recommend nutritional supplements to overcome any nutritional deficiencies
  • Provide dietary advice on managing constipation.

Accessing nutrition and dietetics

Seeing a dietitian will not be necessary for everyone who has Parkinson’s. However if you have noticed changes to your weight or energy levels, increasing constipation or poor eating habits, then you may benefit from visiting a dietitian. Acting on these issues early will help to lessen their impact.

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a suitable dietician
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about dieticians that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Psychology

Psychologists are specially trained to help people cope with life’s problems. In the case of Parkinson’s, a psychologist can help you to deal with the emotional and psychological challenges of living with the condition. Psychologists are also experts in managing changes related to thought processing abilities, also known as cognition.

How psychology can help 

There are many reasons why someone living with Parkinson’s might benefit from seeing a psychologist. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can bring with it many psychological and emotional challenges. For instance, anxiety, depression and stress affect a large proportion of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Assessment and treatment by a psychologist can help to address these issues for people living with Parkinson’s, their carers, family and friends.

The psychologist may:

  • Help you to deal with your emotional reaction to diagnosis
  • Undertake assessments, and suggest strategies to manage memory and cognitive difficulties
  • Teach strategies to manage anxiety and stress
  • Talk with you and develop strategies to overcome depression
  • Suggest strategies to help you cope with the ongoing challenges of Parkinson’s.

Accessing psychology

Seeing a psychologist will not be necessary for everyone who has Parkinson’s. However if you have been having difficulty coming to terms with the diagnosis or are struggling to cope with the ongoing challenges of life, then you may benefit from visiting a psychologist. Acting on these issues early can help you to lower their long term impact. 

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a suitable psychologist
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about psychologists that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Social Work

Social workers are trained to help people with the social, emotional and financial challenges of life. Sometimes these challenges can become much greater when you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

How social work can help 

There are many ways in which a social worker can assist someone living with Parkinson’s. In many cases, social workers can be an excellent source of counselling. Being able to talk through your problems with an independent person can be very beneficial. A social worker can also provide much more practical assistance with regards to matters involving housing, employment, money, relationships and care.

The social worker may:

  • Help you to access Government benefits, such as concessions, pensions or allowances
  • Help you to manage finances
  • Identify and address the needs of carers, family members and friends
  • Provide assistance with advance care planning, as well as assistance with understanding guardianship and powers of attorney
  • Provide counselling to help you deal with the emotional challenges of Parkinson’s
  • Work with you to develop stress management strategies
  • Identify options for respite and residential care

Accessing social work

Seeing a social worker will not be necessary for everyone who has Parkinson’s. However if you have been having difficulty with any of the matters mentioned above then you should consider seeing a social worker. Many of these issues can grow into large problems if you do not seek help early. 

Support for you

  • Your GP or specialist can refer you to a social worker
  • Parkinson’s Victoria Health Team can also provide advice about social workers that may be suitable
  • Call Parkinson’s Victoria Information Line on 1800 644 189
  • Email: info@parkinsons-vic.org.au

Accessing Professional Support Under Medicare

For people living with a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s, Medicare provides a rebate for individual allied health services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, nutrition and dietetics, psychology and social work. The rebate enables people to access a maximum of five allied health consultations per calendar year. If additional consultations are required, they will be at your own expense. Speak to your GP if you think you would benefit from these services.

This rebate is provided under the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program, formerly known as Enhanced Primary Care (EPC). 

More details on this rebate can be found on the Department of Health website.

Top