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Living with Parkinson's disease

Approximately one million people in the United States are affected by Parkinson’s disease, a disorder related to the way neurons in our brains behave. Parkinson’s disease usually progresses in severity over a period of time and a cure is still being sought.

Parkinson’s disease can cause different effects in different people, but some of the most common symptoms include tremors, problems with balance and a muffled tone of speech.

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment can help to improve quality of life and manage symptoms. In addition to medication that helps to control symptoms, individuals with Parkinson’s disease have also seen benefits from therapy program such as those based on the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) protocol. Therapy can focus on improving both movement and speech.

Movement: Physical and occupational therapists use the LSVT BIG protocol to help patients improve their motor skills and overall movement.

“Therapy conducted over a series of weeks can help patients affected by Parkinson’s to increase their walking pace and stride. Patients also find improvements in balance and stability,” said Jason Martin, PT, a physical therapist with Maury Regional Physical Therapy in Columbia.

Speech: Using the LSVT LOUD program, speech therapists help those with Parkinson’s disease to enhance their voice and speech skills.

“Speech therapy for our Parkinson’s patients focuses on improvements in articulation, facial expressions, speech volume and confidence level when speaking,” said Amy Melton, a speech therapist trained to provide LSVT LOUD therapy to patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Patients who participate in the Parkinson’s therapy program should perform the same exercises at home to continue their progress and help manage effects of the disease.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would like more information about benefits of therapy, call Maury Regional Physical Therapy at 931.380.4014.

Jason Martin, PT, is a physical therapist and Amy Melton, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech therapist who work with patients at Maury Regional Physical Therapy in Columbia, Tennessee, where the LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD therapy programs provide treatment to patients with Parkinson’s disease.