A Parkinson’s diagnosis can be scary and discouraging. Fortunately, patients can improve their quality of life through physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Regional One Health’s Center for Rehabilitative Medicine now offers a one-stop Parkinson’s program. Providers combined their expertise to create the unique option.
They recently added a specialty program which is specifically geared toward persons with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. It complements the unique Parkinson’s speech therapy they were already providing.
Ambrosia Scott, DPT, LAT, CCI, is now a certified LSVT BIG clinician. Speech-language pathologist Johnna Johnson is a certified LSVT LOUD clinician.
“There are a lot of patients with Parkinson’s in our area around the East Campus. We wanted to offer them the best therapies available to live their lives to the fullest,” Scott said.
“These programs were created based on extensive research. They’ve shown excellent results for patients with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions.”
LSVT BIG is based on the proven principles of LSVT LOUD.
Scott said the program is rigorous. Patients attend 16 one-on-one, hour-long therapy sessions over four weeks. They exercise on their own on the days they don’t attend therapy.
LSVT BIG uses intensive exercises to help patients move their body normally. It teaches them the amount of effort required to produce normal movement. Therapists then help patients translate the exercises into everyday activities.
The goal is to help patients establish a lifelong habit of exercising in a way that helps preserve normal function as much as possible.
“Parkinson’s disease can cause movements to get smaller and slower. That makes it hard to do everything from walking to getting dressed,” Scott said. “Patients may not realize their movements are too small or slow – they may feel like they’re the same as always. LSVT BIG therapy helps them get used to movement that may feel too big at first but is actually normal.”
Scott encourages patients to start the therapy as soon after their diagnosis as possible. That gives them the best chance of improving their movement and success with maintaining independence functionally.
Research has shown LSVT BIG provides many improvements:
- Larger steps
- Faster walking
- Better balance
- More ability to twist at the waist
- Easier time getting up from sitting
- Improved “small motor” skills like writing or fastening clothing
LSVT LOUD provides similar improvements for speech. Johnson helps patients strengthen the muscles involved in speech. She teaches them to speak at a normal volume and pace.
Parkinson’s patients may perceive their speech differently than it really sounds. That can cause them to talk too softly.
“When you can no longer understand or hear your family member who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, it’s time to see a speech therapist who is certified in LSVT LOUD,” Johnson said. “Research shows it is 85 percent successful if the protocol is followed correctly.”
Offering both therapies makes the Center for Rehabilitative Medicine a game-changer for patients. Scott noted along with measurable gains there is an emotional benefit as patients realize they can improve.
“It’s empowering, because patients start to understand their potential,” Scott said. “They see that their quality of life doesn’t have to suffer because of their Parkinson’s disease. It gives them the confidence to participate fully in day-to-day life.”