Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

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Early Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Showing Promise

What is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that can lead to high levels of disability. Common symptoms include slowness of movements, muscular rigidity, and tremor. This can increase risk of falls, and subsequent further injury such as fractures.

Alongside physical deterioration PD can cause cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which can impact quality of life. Twenty five percent of recently diagnosed people with PD will experience cognitive impairment.

What can be done to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease?

Pharmacological interventions are important in symptom management, however there is currently no drug that has a neuroprotective effect to slow down the progression of PD. Fortunately, evidence demonstrates that an individualised, high intensity exercise program is safe and effective in slowing the progression of the disease by means of neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to respond to physical experiences and adapt accordingly. Participation in regular high intensity exercise can facilitate neuroplasticity in people with PD.

When should people with Parkinson’s disease commence a regular exercise routine?

People recently diagnosed with PD often have few symptoms, are high-functioning, and therefore don’t realise they should start exercising immediately. Commencing high intensity exercise early after diagnosis is recommended to maximise the positive long term effects of exercise for PD.

Under guidance of a health professional, commencement of a regular exercise routine will be beneficial, no matter the stage of the disease.

What are the benefits of exercising with Parkinson’s disease?

Regular exercise improves cardiovascular function, endurance, strength, balance, daily function and cognition. With the right support, we can slow the progression of PD, and give people the potential to maintain a high functioning lifestyle. Learning to maintain a physically active lifestyle also prevents many other chronic diseases.

Additional benefits to exercising with PD are:

  • Reduced falls risk;
  • Increasing step length/gait speed;
  • Reduced rates of depression/anxiety;
  • Improved self-efficacy;
  • Improved cognitive function;
  • Improved motor control functions; and
  • Increase central nervous system function.

Donvale Rehabilitation Parkinson’s Program

Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital’s Parkinson’s program is a 10 Week Multi-disciplinary program. Comprehensive education, individualised exercises and participant support in a small group environment.

Our agreements with most health funds means out-of-pocket expenses are kept to a minimum.

To ensure your patients achieve best possible outcomes and quality of life, please contact us. A referral form and brochure can be downloaded from Day Rehabilitation webpage.

Mail: Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital
1119 Doncaster Road, Donvale 3111
Fax: 9841 1405


Ahlskog E, Does vigorous exercise have a neuroprotective effect in Parkinson disease, 2011, 77, pp 288-294

Harvey M, Weston KL, Gray WK, O’Callaghan A, Oates LL, Davidson R, Walker RW, 2019, High-intensity interval training in people with PD: a randomized controlled feasibility trail, Clinical rehabilitation, 33, (3), 428-438

Frazzitta G, Maestri R, Bertotti G, Riboldazzi G, Boveri N, Perinis M, Uccellini D, Turla M, Comi C, Pezzoli G, Ghilardi MF, 2015, Intensive Rehabilition Treatment in Early PD: A Randomized Pilot Study With a 2- Year Follow-up, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29 (2), pp123-131

Kool MM, Rosenfeldt AB, Alberts JL, 2019 Mobility improves after high intensity aerobic exercise in individuals with PD, Journal of Neurological Sciences, 399, pp 187-199

Morberg BM, Jensen J, Bode M, Wermuth L, 2014, The impact of high intensity physical training on motor and non- motor symptoms in patients with Parkinsons disease (PIP): A preliminary study, NeuroRehabilitation, 35, pp291-298

Early Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Showing Promise