Evidence for Early and Regular Physical Therapy and Exercise in Parkinson's Disease

Terry D. Ellis, Cristina Colón-Semenza, Tamara R. Deangelis, Cathi A. Thomas, Marie Hélène Saint Hilaire, Gammon M. Earhart, Leland E. Dibble

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Advances in medical management of Parkinson's disease (PD) have resulted in living longer with disability. Although disability worsens over the course of the disease, there are signs of disability even in the early stages. Several studies reveal an early decline in gait and balance and a high prevalence of nonmotor signs in the prodromal period that contribute to early disability. There is a growing body of evidence revealing the benefits of physical therapy and exercise to mitigate motor and nonmotor signs while improving physical function and reducing disability. The presence of early disability coupled with the benefits of exercise suggests that physical therapy should be initiated earlier in the disease. In this review, we present the evidence revealing early disability in PD and the effectiveness of physical therapy and exercise, followed by a discussion of a secondary prevention model of rehabilitation to reduce early disability and optimize long-Term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
JournalSeminars in Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Parkinson's disease
  • exercise
  • physical activity
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation


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