Creating a "New Normal" Benefits Parkinson Patients
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60. Despite medical advances, a diagnosis still depends primarily on identifying the core symptoms ̶ tremor, slowness, and stiffness ̶ as originally described by James Parkinson, who discovered the disease almost 200 years ago.
Slowness in movement, known as bradykinesia, causes difficulty with repetitive movements making it difficult to button a shirt, cut up food, or brush one’s teeth. People with bradykinesia may walk with short, shuffling steps and their speech may be affected, becoming quieter and less distinct as the disease progresses.
To help those with Parkinson’s disease cope with these problems, physical therapists and speech language pathologists with the Nash Day Hospital Rehabilitation Team at Nash UNC Health Care were recently certified in two new programs: LSVT BIG® and LSVT LOUD®.
Thanks to a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation secured by Elaine Weisner, PT, Clinical Coordinator of Rehabilitation Services at Nash Day Hospital, six members of the NDH rehabilitation team have attended training and are now certified in the LSVT programs.
Blake Tedder, MSW, Community Development Manager with the National Parkinson Foundation recently visited Nash Day Hospital to speak with physical therapists and speech language pathologists about the new programs.
During his visit, Tedder commended the group on their efforts to educate and engage patients, and for making presentations to community civic groups, support groups and physician’s offices about Parkinson’s disease and the LSVT programs.
In addition to local presentations, two of the NDH therapists will be speaking about the program at the North Carolina Nurses Association conference in April.
The LSVT BIG program focuses on improving movement, balance, and walking by utilizing movements perceived by the patient as exaggerated, but appearing normal to those around them. LSVT LOUD emphasizes speech volume and clarity to help patients be understood in conversation.
Marcia Ratcliff, PT, OP Rehab Services/Joint Rehabilitation Center Supervisor, explains, “As the disease progresses, a patient’s movements become smaller and smaller. It’s not just walking. It’s reaching, correcting balance, every motion they make gets smaller. LSVT BIG teaches them to recalibrate those movements.”
Physical therapist Tina Campbell adds, “Both of these programs provide practical, usable skills that patients with Parkinson’s disease can put into action right away. Taking bigger steps and speaking louder soon become natural ̶ their “new normal.”
A primary risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age, and with America’s Baby Boomer generation hitting its 60’s, we are likely to see a dramatic increase in the incidence of this disease, from 1.5 million today to an estimated 4 million cases within the next 25 years.
For those interested in the LSVT programs, you may call Tina Campbell at 252-962-8945.