The health professionals who can help
Many different healthcare professionals may be involved in helping you manage your Parkinson's. Some will have a bigger role than others, depending on your symptoms.
This group of health professionals that support you to live with Parkinson's is called a multidisciplinary team.
Your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse can make referrals to the healthcare professionals listed here. In some areas, you may be able to refer yourself.
If you think you have Parkinson's, the first person you should see is your GP.
Your GP should refer you to a Parkinson's specialist doctor for diagnosis. The GP can also refer you to a range of other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists and physiotherapists.
Your GP may know you well, which can be helpful. But the average GP will only have 3 or 4 patients with Parkinson's, and it’s unlikely they will know as much about the condition as specialists do.
We recommend you see a specialist for advice about your Parkinson's.
A Parkinson's specialist is a doctor, usually a neurologist or geriatrician (specialists in the care of older people) with particular expertise in Parkinson's.
Make sure you're referred to a specialist because Parkinson's is a complex condition that is difficult to diagnose, and can require complex drug treatment.
The clinical guidelines on Parkinson's recommend that people are referred to a specialist by their GP for diagnosis and treatment.
You may find that access to other professionals, such as Parkinson's nurses, therapists and dietitians, might be easier through your specialist, as they often work in teams with other related healthcare professionals.
Parkinson's nurses have specialist experience, knowledge and skills in Parkinson's, and play a vital role in giving expert care to people with Parkinson's.
Speech and language therapists
Speech and language therapists are healthcare professionals who specialise in all aspects of communication, from facial expression and body language to speech and communication aids.
They are also experts in swallowing problems.
Speech and language therapists can be extremely helpful, so we recommend you speak to one as soon as you can.
Occupational therapists can help people with disabilities to stay as independent as possible.
They assess how able you are to carry out day-to-day activities and suggest ways of making your home and workplace safer or more manageable.
They can advise you about appropriate adaptations, aids or equipment.
Occupational therapists can also tell you about leisure activities that can help you stay fit and that you may enjoy.
Dietitians can help if you have problems with your diet, for example if you are under or overweight or have digestive problems, such as constipation.
Physiotherapists use physical treatments, including exercise, to help manage any stiffness in joints and to restore muscle strength and mobility.
They can also advise your carer on safe ways to help you if you have problems moving and suggest ways to prevent falls.
Seeing a physiotherapist can make a real difference, so we recommend that you ask to be referred.
A pharmacist can help you understand the medication you are prescribed and explain how to take it.
If you have other illnesses or conditions you need medication for, your pharmacist can guide you on how to take these alongside your Parkinson's medication.
They can also advise on dispensing aids, such as pill timers, and offer advice if you find opening bottles difficult.