Miracles Can Really Happen – Physical Therapy is Helping People with Parkinson’s Disease

by Annette Pinder

Happy senior loving couple over green nature background

Parkinson’s Disease continues to be in the news – from the recent death of Muhammad Ali – to Brian Grant, a former Portland Trail Blazer. It has created a greater awareness of the disease, and the hope for new treatments that can alleviate some of the debilitating effects.

Here in Western New York, physical therapists at Catholic Health’s Partners in Rehab division are particularly excited about the successes they are experiencing with LSVT BIG® (physical therapy) and LSVT LOUD® (speech therapy). The therapies are helping both patients who are newly diagnosed, as well as those who have been suffering for years.

LSVT BIG increases mobility (bigness) and is delivered by a physical therapist. Patients undergo 16 sessions over one month (four 60-minute sessions per week). LSVT BIG addresses the unique movement impairments for people with Parkinson’s Disease, and consists of many repetitions of core movements used in daily living. This repetition helps patients carry these movements over into everyday life. Patients see an improvement in their gait, upper and lower limb balance, and an increased ability to perform dual tasks.

LSVT LOUD speech treatment helps individuals with Parkinson disease, as well as other neurological conditions. Named for Mrs. Lee Silverman (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment), LSVT LOUD helps improve vocal loudness, intonation, and voice quality in those with Parkinson’s Disease. Studies also show the therapy helps with people experiencing disordered articulation, diminished facial expression and impaired swallowing, while improving respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function so that patients are better understood. As with LSVT BIG, this treatment also involves 16 sessions over one month (four 60-minute sessions per week).

“There is a great need for this type of therapy among Parkinson’s patients,” according to David May, LSVT BIG certified physical therapist. “Both methods improve the quality of life in a holistic way through therapy sessions aimed at recalibrating the patient’s perception of their own movement and speech.”

One newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patient, who began noticing that the disease was starting to compromise his speech, underwent LSVT LOUD. After completing the program he said, “Parkinson’s is a burden that can change your life, including simple things like swallowing and speaking. Fortunately, help is available. I worked with Nancy Lawler at Sisters Hospital, a very positive and effective speech therapist who works to help improve your capabilities so you can get back to normal living. Thanks to the LSVT program I am better equipped to do both.”

There are no medications involved in either of the treatments. However, both require a commitment, and the willingness to stick with it and practice. To view a video that illustrates the wonderful transformation in one patient, visit www.lsvtglobal.com/news/video.

Learn more about LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD therapy programs and find a certified therapist at www.chsbuffalo.org/Services/Rehabilitation/LSVTTherapy. You can also call 716-706-2112. It may make a very BIG and LOUD difference to you or a loved one.