I've started working with clients with Parkinson's Disease (PD) recently after I went to a LSVT BIG® certification course. I was very surprised that only a few physicians refer their Parkinson's patients to exercise programs at early stage of disease. Many physicians wait until patients' symptoms get much worse and their functions are apparently affected. Although PD is progressive in nature, research has shown that early intervention can slow the progression of the disease or even reverse it. Specific exercise program is beneficial at any stage, however, the outcomes are much more promising when it's initiated at very early stage.
I've worked with people with PD of various stages, and I've seen huge improvements even in people with late stage PD. One gentleman I worked with was initially wheelchair bound and was not able to stand from wheelchair without someone's assistance and not able to ambulate. After working with him for about 6 weeks, he was able to stand from wheelchair without any assistance, and able to walk with a walker. This was a big deal for him who couldn't do these things for a long time and never imagined that he would be able to do these things again. Not only the exercise program helped him to improve his functions, but improved his quality of life so much. He was quite depressed and didn't have much motivation to do anything when I first saw him, but by the end, he was a completely different person.
I'm hoping that more people with PD start hearing about benefits of early exercise program and initiate a program as soon as a diagnosis was made, and more physicians become aware of this.