Parkinsons Patients Learn To Think Big

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new therapy at Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital in Topeka is helping people with Parkinsons disease move more normally again.

The disease was making everyday tasks nearly impossible for Carolyn Anguish. She had trouble getting of bed and dressing herself. In fact, she could barely her make it 100 feet on her own four weeks ago when she met David Fredericks, a physical therapist at Kansas Rehab.

Fredericks began leading Anguish through the LSVT Big Program.

Fredericks says many time, people with Parkinsons become smaller in the world, with smaller movements. The Big Program exercises are designed specifically on amplitude - everything is big movement.

Patients work an hour a day, four days a week for four weeks working through a set of seven specific exercises. Fredericks says they work on range of motion, muscle strength and stamina, but there is also a physiological aspect, as they work to change the way the brain is communicating with the limbs and muscles themselves.

The end result is translating those exercises to everyday life. Fredericks says it allows patients to move more normally. He says it helps improve balance, helps improve gait and speed, and can improve functions like, being able to get in and out of bed.

With her sessions nearly done, Anguish has gone from walking 100 feet to more than 1200 feet on her own, usually able to leave her cane behind.

The "LSVT" in "LSVT Big" stands for Lee Silverman Voice Therapy. The parent program focused on exercises to strengthen the voice muscles weakened by Parkinsons. Instead of "big" the mantra there was for patients to think "loud."

Fredericks says longer-term research on the voice therapy shows it can have lasting benefits. He says, so far, the same is holding true for the Big Program patients, so long as they continue to do the exercises on their own once the formal sessions are over. He calls doing the exercises as important as taking one's medication.


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