Specialized Training Helps People with Parkinson's and Other Neurological Disorders

posted on Thursday, June 6, 2019 in General

A person with a neurological diagnosis, such as Parkinson’s disease, may experience several frustrating symptoms. They may face speech difficulties and problems swallowing food or beverages without choking. Often movements, including walking and balance, are issues. Yet, the good news is that treatment options are available. Two therapy-based programs, LSVT™ LOUD and BIG treatments, are evidence-based therapies designed to lessen symptoms for those with neurological health concerns.

LSVT stands for Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, which was developed by Dr. Lorraine Ramig and named after Mrs. Lee Silverman, a woman living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Just over a year ago, Laura Johnson, a speech and language therapist at Spencer Hospital, earned certification as an LSVT LOUD therapist. Recently, Ashley Betz-Jones, a Spencer Hospital occupational therapist, earned her certificate in the LSVT BIG therapy techniques. LSVT LOUD speech therapy improves communication in daily living; and LSVT BIG physical or occupational therapy improves mobility and movement used in everyday function.

LSVT LOUD training improves vocal loudness by stimulating the muscles of the voice box (larynx) and speech mechanism through a systematic hierarchy of exercises. Focused on a single goal “speak LOUD!” – the treatment improves respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function to maximize speech intelligibility. The treatment does not train people for shouting or yelling; rather, LSVT LOUD therapy uses loudness training to bring the voice to an improved, healthy vocal loudness with no strain. Patients are trained to self-generate the adequate amount of loudness to make their speech

With exercises involving the whole body — personalized for each person but all built around “Think BIG!” as a guiding principle — LSVT BIG training reteaches patients how normal movement should feel.  Specifically, research shows that LSVT BIG treatment can lead to faster walking with bigger steps and arm swings, better balance and greater flexibility. Clinicians also report that LSVT BIG therapy often helps people with buttoning their clothes, writing and other smaller-movement (“small motor”) tasks, as well large (“large motor”) movements like dressing, getting up from a seat and getting into bed.

Standardized treatment protocol for both therapies - LSVT BIG therapy and LSVT LOUD therapy - each consists of 16 sessions, four consecutive days a week for four weeks. Many people with neurological conditions will benefit from both therapies. Your therapists will work with you to design a schedule to best meet your needs. Typically, the two different therapies do not overlap as a concurrent schedule can be strenuous.

Visit with your physician about these therapy options or contact Spencer Hospital Rehabilitative Services for more information, (712) 264-6189.