Northwestern's Comprehensive Care Model - Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy

The Physical Therapist in the movement disorders clinic plays a significant role in both evaluation and treatment of patients.


The Physical Therapist assesses patients' balance, posture, range of motion, and functional strength. She observes movement patterns, and explores the impact of movement disorder symptoms on patients' mobility skills and ability to perform activities of daily living. With regards to safety, the Physical Therapist assesses the patient's risk of falling and possible need for an assistive device, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Because the patient's subjective report is an important part of a PT assessment, the Physical Therapist initiates discussion of questions such as: Does the patient feel slow or stiff while trying to move in bed, get up from a chair, or dress himself? Does the patient feel unsteady while walking, have difficulty getting started walking, or experience “freezing?” Has he fallen, or is he afraid of falling? What, if anything, is the patient doing in the way of exercise to manage the symptoms of Parkinson's?


  • Appropriate Parkinson's-specific exercise education
  • Gait and mobility training, with emphasis on safety to minimize fall risk
  • Recommendations for appropriate adaptive equipment, and instruction in the correct use of such devices
  • Caregiver/family training in safety skills and in patient's exercise regimen
  • Recommendations for community exercise programs
  • Outpatient or homecare referrals

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. It gives people the “skills for the job of living” necessary for independent and satisfying lives (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2005). Our Occupational Therapist can help people to learn new and adaptive ways of performing the basic daily activities of feeding, oral and facial hygiene, dressing, meal preparation, and work. In addition to the teaching of techniques and strategies, the Occupational Therapist may recommend assistive products, devices, and equipment. Some examples might be: scoop plates, handled cups, and weighted utensils; button aides, jewelry hooks, and long-handled shoe horns; bigger telephone keypads. We make referrals for Occupational Therapy on an as-needed basis.

Comprehensive Care Model