A Victory in Court for Parkinson’s Disease Patients who Require Ongoing Rehabilitative Therapies

NPF's National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. OkunYou can find out more about NPF’s National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the NPF Center of Excellence, University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration.

Most experts believe that consistency is the key to success in caring for Parkinson’s disease patients.  This consistency is especially true when it comes to rehabilitative services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  Patients who exercise regularly or who receive therapy services on a regular schedule, seem to perform better.  Although it is unknown why Parkinson’s patients improve with consistent care, we believe that it likely has something to do with the affected brain system which is referred to as the basal ganglia.  Basal ganglia diseases such as Parkinson’s, respond to cueing.  One theory explaining the benefit of this approach is that regular rehabilitative therapy sessions are probably interpreted by the brain as cuing.  Cuing, through the use of regular rehabilitation and exercise programs, in some magical way provides Parkinson’s disease patients daily and meaningful benefits.  The recent court ruling that Parkinson’s patients can now obtain therapy even if the therapist cannot document incremental improvement, is a potential huge leap in access to adequate care.

The NY Times recently published an article on October 23, 2012, Accord to Ease Medicare Rules in Chronic Cases.  In a published reply by the National Parkinson Foundation we applaud this court decision, as many Parkinson’s patients have been “denied therapy services when the improvement standard has not been met, despite meaningful gains in areas like fall and fracture risk.”  Additionally, we cite recent studies showing that expert care reduces the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease.

We believe that every Parkinson’s disease patient should be aware of their right to continuing care, and also that this type of consistent approach to rehabilitative therapy has the potential to offer long-term and lasting benefits.


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