As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, patients face losing their ability to walk, talk and complete their daily activities. There is no cure for the disease, but a proven therapy is here to help. Tri-County Health Care utilizes a comprehensive approach of certified therapists in physical, occupation and speech-language therapy when treating Parkinson’s. This approach, known as the Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT), offers relief and treatment for patients with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, making it a perfect time to explain the disease and its treatments. While it’s likely you’ve heard of the disease; it may not be well understood. The condition occurs when there is a loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. It usually presents itself in people over 60, and approximately 60,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year.
The four common symptoms include tremors, limb and trunk stiffness, bradykinesia (the slowing down of movement) and weak balance or coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms exacerbate over time and as they become worse, patients may start to have trouble with everyday tasks.
What is LSVT?
LSVT is an effective, evidence-based approach to treating Parkinson’s. Its programs have been scientifically and clinically proven to improve balance, walking and general movement and speech patterns of patients.
Through targeted and repetitive exercises, the therapy takes advantage of the brain’s ability to adapt and form new neural connections. It enables people to create new motor-skill and language memories and apply them to their real-world situations.
Get back to everyday activities – LSVT BIG
For people living with Parkinson’s or other neurological conditions, gestures and actions become smaller. They may find everyday activities like getting around or getting dressed become difficult.
LSVT BIG effectively trains improved movements for any activity. It improves walking, self-care and other tasks by helping patients “recalibrate” how they perceive their movements with what others see. Research has shown the program improves ratings on tests of motor functioning in people with Parkinson’s, including:
- Faster walking with bigger steps
- Improved balance
- Increased trunk rotation
- Improvements in activities of daily living such as bed mobility
- Improved UPDRS Motor Score
LSVT BIG utilizes program-certified physical and/or occupational therapists, including Trenda Hoemberg, physical therapist, and Caitlyn Wolter, occupational therapist. Our staff provided their perspectives on the value or the LSVT program:
“Individuals with Parkinson’s disease often struggle with daily tasks such as getting up from the chair, walking and balance. Providing the LSVT BIG program has allowed me to increase a patient’s independence throughout the day and limit support needed from their caregiver,” said Trenda. “My favorite part of being an LSVT BIG provider is when patients tell me they can walk outside without the use of a walker or cane, getting in or out of the car without help, and being able to visit with family or friends. I love watching individuals achieve their goals and engage in activities they previously enjoyed.”
“Parkinson’s disease can, unfortunately, take a lot of independence away from people. Our patients often have difficulty with basic daily tasks that were once easy to them, such as getting dressed or doing household chores. Being an LSVT BIG provider has given me the opportunity to watch my patients take back some – or all – of their independence,” said Caitlyn. “My favorite part of this program is when patients tell me they are able to button their shirt again, climb back into the tractor, or be able to play with their grandkids again on the floor. It is a rewarding program to be a part of.”
Effective speech treatment – LSVT LOUD
LSVT LOUD is an effective speech program for treating people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. It trains people with Parkinson’s to use their voice at a more normal loudness level while speaking at home, work or in the community. One key to the treatment is helping people recalibrate their perceptions to know how loud or soft they sound to other people and feel comfortable using a stronger voice at a normal volume.
These programs were developed and scientifically researched for over two decades and have led to an improved impact on multiple levels of functioning in people with Parkinson’s, including:
- Increased vocal loudness
- Improved articulation and speech intelligibility
- Improved intonation
- Improvements in facial expression
- Changes in neural functioning related to voice and speech
This treatment is delivered by over 16,000 certified LSVT clinicians around worldwide, including Meghan Current-Cary, speech-language pathologist.
“Providing the LSVT LOUD program to patients with Parkinson’s disease has allowed me to watch big gains in their ability to communicate. Talking with family and friends is a vital part of our lives and something that most of us take for granted. Communication difficulties cause a decrease in one’s ability to state their wants and needs and impacts connections with loved ones,” said Meghan. “I enjoy hearing LSVT LOUD patients’ voices become stronger. My favorite aspect of this therapy is observing patients tell their family and friends ‘I love you’ in a loud, clear voice which they may not have been able to do prior to completing this therapy.”
Getting help at Tri-County Health Care
Our team of LSVT-certified physical, occupational and speech therapists are trained in treating Parkinson’s. This treatment is customized to the needs and goals of each patient. Patients attend treatment four days a week for four weeks and must be referred by a provider or specialist. Achieving improved walking, balance, vocal loudness, and speech intelligibility are all available. Ask your provider about this treatment program today. To learn more, visit TCHC.org/rehab.