Ask the Expert: Occupational therapy can help with Parkinson’s

By Tucson Medical Center

For people living with Parkinson’s disease, tasks such as writing, eating or using a phone can be difficult, especially if tremors are experienced. 

The good news is occupational therapy can help work through these challenges, in addition to other challenges that may affect your ability to perform day to day tasks.

Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. 

“Occupational therapists have the education, knowledge base and trained skills using a Parkinson’s-specific approach to address the functional deficits of everyday living,” says Narmean Pedawi, occupational therapist, TMC outpatient therapy. “Your occupational therapists will evaluate and come up with a plan that is centered on you.”

The main objective of occupational therapy is to make a person as independent as possible in order to carry out everyday tasks. 

Here are three ways OT can help with Parkinson’s disease.


Handwriting can get less neat or smaller because of the decreasing ability to hold and use a pen or pencil. Occupational therapists can teach a variety of hand exercises and movements to improve the control and coordination needed to perform handwriting more confidently. The therapist can also determine what types of handwriting aids might be a suitable resource.


Those with a mild tremor might not have trouble eating, but for others, it can be so challenging that it leads to frustration. Occupational therapists can help train a person on using proper body mechanics, and can introduce a variety of modified tools such as weighted utensils or easy-grip utensils, cups and plates or nonskid materials to keep dishes in place. 

Assistive devices

As Parkinson’s progresses, a person’s motor and sensory symptoms, such as tremors, shakiness, stiffness, slower movements and vision changes, can make it difficult to use electronic devices such as phones or tablets. For this, the goal of the occupational therapist is to enhance and enable a person’s participation in the use of technology. The therapist will determine the need for modified or customized devices and provide training and support on using them. The right assistive devices or technological tools can increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities for a person with PD. 

If you or someone you know is living with Parkinson’s disease, consider seeing an occupational therapist. There are a variety of principles that can be taught that may help functioning with tremor easier. Call TMC outpatient therapy at 520-324-7005 for a consultation.