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Physiotherapist thrives on Parkinson’s role

By Karen Keast | Last Updated: 19-11-2013

Physiotherapist Joanne Bolton

After working as a physiotherapist in acute, subacute and community roles in Sydney and London, Joanne Bolton decided to put her physiotherapy skills to the test in a different role.

In 2009, Joanne embarked on a two-year government-funded project as the Parkinson’s disease clinical consultant at Melbourne’s Western Health.

There, she developed the first speciality Movement Disorders Service for people with Parkinson’s living in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The service includes an education and information arm, a new medical outpatient Movement Disorders Clinic along with a new Parkinson’s section within the existing community based rehabilitation team.

The project has been such a success, Joanne is continuing on in her new role as the movement disorders clinical coordinator.

Working in Parkinson’s is an area Joanne has relished.

“I find it really enjoyable,” she said.

“With something like Parkinson’s, where there is no cure and a lot of it is about management on a day to day basis, you can make a big difference in helping people to live with the condition.”

Since 2009, the service has helped 340 people with the progressive neurological condition that causes tremors, slow movement, muscle rigidity and postural instability.

Joanne, who is originally from Queensland, said it was a rewarding role that enabled her to make home visits and provide clients with access to a movement disorder neurologist and specialist multi-disciplinary nursing and allied health professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.

“It’s really quite a varied role,” she said.

“I see people who have recently had a diagnosis or some people who are in the middle stages and I see people who have had the condition for 20 plus years.

“It’s really quite challenging and interesting.

“Everyone presents differently and at different stages of their own journey, and some days I am in a medical clinic and the next day I am in a person’s lounge room.

“It’s the most enjoyable role I have had in my career so far.”

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