Muscle rigidity (also known as muscle stiffness) is one of the four cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and is often one of the chief complaints of patients with PD. Muscle rigidity can have an effect on a patient’s ability to complete daily activities including getting dress, brushing their teeth, or preparing a meal because it often leaves the patient feeling “weak” or “fatigued.” However, flexibility programs are often not completed or considered a typical part of exercise for older adults but it is an extremely important part to Parkinson’s motor symptom management.
Basic principles of managing rigidity include:
- Incorporating a flexibility program such as Tai Chi or Yoga
- Simple and basic upper body, lower body and trunk stretching program
- Implementing a stretching or flexibility program at least one time a day
- Use high amplitude movements and movement enhancement strategies to combat muscle rigidity during functional tasks
- Follow up with an Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist for detailed and specific flexibility and muscle rigidity management
Completed in part by: Darcy Loveland, OTS