Nutrition for Recovery

Great Northern Welcomes Rita Pascoe!

Great Northern is excited to announce that starting mid- September we are hiring a new Physical Therapist, Rita, who specializes in neurological rehab!

Rita was born and raised on a farm and ranch near Red Lodge, Montana, where she also graduated from high school. She completed her undergraduate degree at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and went on to complete her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Montana in 2008.

Rita has always loved being active and outside, and when not at work, you can find her on adventures with her husband, and spending time with their two amazing kids. She feels her best when in nature and loves nothing more than a long walk in the mountains. Rita also enjoys being engaged in her community and partnering with her patients to achieve their own meaningful goals.

Since becoming a physical therapist, Rita has worked primarily in neurologic rehabilitation and has a special interest in neurodegenerative disease and movement disorders. She became a board certified neurologic clinical specialist in 2016, and enjoys continuing to learn and grow in this field.

Check out our new Blog on how PT can be helpful for patients with Parkinson’s. If you or someone you know has a neurological disorder reach out at get scheduled with Rita!


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Our expert team of physical therapists have over 65 years of combined expertise treating sports and orthopedic injuries.

Physical Therapy Improves The Quality of Life for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement, balance, speech, and cognition. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about one million Americans live with PD, and more than 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with it.

While there is no cure for PD, physical therapy can help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Physical therapy can help people with PD:

  • Maintain or improve their mobility, strength, flexibility, and balance
  • Reduce their risk of falls and injuries
  • Enhance their confidence and independence in daily activities
  • Learn strategies to cope with the challenges of living with PD

Physical therapists are experts in movement and function. They use exercise, and hands on techniques to improve strength, coordination and range of motion. Physical therapists also use exercise and activities to challenge and improve the balance of people with Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, they can also provide education, guidance, and support for people with PD and their caregivers.

Physical therapy for people with Parkinson’s Disease is heavily researched and has been shown to be an effective intervention. One meta-study (a study that combines the results of many other studies) that covered 1827 participants found that when compared to no intervention, PT significantly improved:

  • gait speed
  • two- and six-minute walk test scores
  • Freezing of Gait questionnaire
  • the Timed Up & Go test
  • Functional Reach Test
  • and the Berg Balance Scale

These results indicate improvements in mobility, endurance, strength, and balance. Gait speed is an especially important measurement. Physical therapists often consider gait speed a “vital sign.” This is because low gait speed has been linked to:

  • declines in functional mobility
  • higher rates of hospitalization
  • higher fall rates
  • cognitive decline
  • increased disability
  • and higher risk of death

A larger meta study that included 191 studies with 7998 participants found that PT significantly improved motor symptoms, gait, and quality of life. Specifically:

  • Resistance and treadmill training improved gait.
  • Strategy training improved balance and gait.
  • Dance, Nordic walking, balance and gait training, and martial arts improved motor symptoms, balance, and gait.

Physical therapy can be beneficial at any stage of PD, from the time of diagnosis to the advanced stages. It is a valuable treatment option for people with PD, as it can help to improve or maintain their physical function, mobility, and independence. Physical therapy can also enhance their quality of life, confidence, and well-being.  


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