BMN Blog

NOV 06
Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is recognized as the second most neurodegenerative disorder right behind Alzheimer’s. An estimated 7 to 10 million people have Parkinson’s disease worldwide, with 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s being diagnosed just in the U.S. every year. Parkinson’s is known as a progressive condition and symptoms will affect patients differently. Typically, people diagnosed with Parkinson’s will portray some degree of difficulty with shaking or tremor, slowness of movement or bradykinesia, stiffness in movement or rigidity of the arms, legs and trunk and gait imbalance. Because of the loss of dopamine producing brain cells, patients will see their movements become slower and smaller, creating risk for falls and impairing their quality of life.

There are many technologies and treatment interventions that are beneficial for the treatment of Parkinson’s to help improve functional mobility and activities of daily living. One of the treatment interventions that we use in outpatient therapy at HealthSouth Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital is LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Training) BIG. This program is an intensive exercise program performed by trained physical and occupational therapists to target whole-body functional movements. The exercises are performed with increased amplitude (or bigness) to address movement impairments that are unique to Parkinson’s.

The LSVT BIG program consists of four times a week for four weeks one hour individual sessions. The exercises involve multiple repetitions of large functional movements that are incorporated into daily tasks and situations. Extensive cueing and feedback from the therapist provides an environment for patients to relearn movements so that they are smoother and more normal. Patients who participate in the LSVT BIG program have experienced faster walking with bigger steps, better balance with decreased fall risk, increased trunk rotation, and ability to perform fine motor skills such as eating, writing, buttoning shirts that they once reported as extremely difficult. Patients also realize an overall improvement in confidence in their daily abilities which even can translate into activities in the community requiring social interaction.

Carryover of the newly learned exercises and movements is imperative in long term function. Patients must continue to perform the intensive exercises daily in order to maintain their improved functional movements. From a medical standpoint, we know that it is key for patients to adhere to their medication routine in order for them to function daily and it is just as vital to practice what they have learned with the LSVT BIG program so that they can maintain the gains that they make in therapy.

I am Cheryl Pierce, an occupational therapist and one of the certified LSVT BIG therapists working in outpatient therapy at Healthsouth Lakeshore. We have multiple physical and occupational therapists trained in LSVT BIG as well as speech therapists who are trained in the LSVT LOUD program that can address speech and voice impairments unique to Parkinson’s. For further inquiries, please contact HealthSouth Lakeshore’s outpatient therapy department at (205) 868-2290.

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