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An older adult does physical therapy exercises via telehealth.

Physical therapy can help people with Parkinson disease improve their quality of life and even delay the negative effects of the disease, but a recent study shows that physical therapist services aren't being maximized by people with Parkinson's.

According to a study presented at the 20th International Congress of Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society ("Underutilization of physiotherapy for Parkinson's disease in the United States" – accessed June 22, 2016), fewer than 12% of Medicare beneficiaries with Parkinson disease utilized physical therapy over a 2 year period. Occupational therapy and speech therapy services also were underutilized.

"Occupational and physical therapy can help patients with being able to exercise, and we know that's one of the most effective ways to reverse the course of Parkinson's," said Peter Schmidt, PhD, of the National Parkinson Foundation, in an interview with MedPage Today about the study. "We've also shown that the earlier you get it, particularly with physical therapy, the more effective it is later in the disease."

To learn more about how physical therapists treat people with Parkinson disease, see our related guide below for Parkinson disease and the video.

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