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Therapy Program Offers BIG Results

Parkinson's Patient Benefits From New Therapies

ron momany fishingSodus resident Ron Momany calls Parkinson’s disease a “shriveling” disease. But that started to change when he discovered the LSVT BIG® therapy program. In this program, specially trained Lakeland occupational and physical therapy clinicians guide individuals with Parkinson’s disease through specific exercises designed to achieve big results – improved balance, flexibility, coordination, and step length.

“It seemed to me that Parkinson’s makes everything about me ‘small’ – my walking, my writing, my movements,” Ron said. “The idea behind LSVT is to repetitively perform certain complex efforts and to expend ‘big’ effort to do them. It challenged both my strength and balance, but at the same time, provided a sense that I was competing with the ‘shriveling’ effects of Parkinson’s disease.”

Ron had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007, after his son, Tim, a physician, suspected the condition and urged Ron to talk with his primary care physician, who referred him to neurologist Robert Ward, III, DO.

For Ron, Parkinson’s disease primarily affected his gait and balance, and he began physical therapy at Lakeland Rehabilitation Services, St. Joseph, to help manage these symptoms. Once he completed therapy, Ron continued to use the fitness equipment in the rehabilitation center on his own (for a small monthly fee) through a “step-down” program. After hearing about LSVT BIG from the Rehabilitation Services staff, Ron asked Dr. Ward for a referral.

“I was doing well performing the exercise routines I learned in physical therapy on my own, but I was interested in doing therapy more specific to Parkinson’s disease, such as LSVT,” Ron said.

Through LSVT BIG, Ron worked with Lakeland Rehabilitation team members four times each week over the next month on repetitive, whole-body, large-motion exercises that “retrain” the brain to make bigger movements.

“The LSVT BIG program is intensive and complex, with many repetitions of core movements used in daily living,” said physical therapist Cynthia Schlipp of Lakeland Rehabilitation Services. “This type of practice helps the patient optimize learning and carry over better movement into everyday life.”

In addition to restricting movement, Parkinson’s disease can also impact an individual’s ability to communicate. To help individuals with Parkinson’s disease enhance their speech, Lakeland also offers LSVT LOUD®, a research-based speech therapy approach that has been documented to improve articulation, facial expression, and swallowing. Patients often complete both LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG, or can choose only one of the programs, depending on their symptoms.

Although Ron completed the LSVT BIG program two years ago, he continues to regularly work out at Lakeland Rehabilitation Services, where his routine includes the exercises he learned in the program. To complement the exercises he learned in LSVT BIG, Ron stays active with hobbies such as fishing, making baskets, and growing vegetables—which he credits for helping him slow the progression of symptoms.

“LSVT helped me, and I think there’s some benefit for anybody with Parkinson’s disease,” Ron said. “The follow-up is important, and I still incorporate what I learned into my life today.” For more information about LSVT, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/lsvt

Ask an Expert 

Frequently Asked Questions 
About Parkinson’s Disease 

What is Parkinson’s disease? 
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects control over your movements. It’s caused by a lack of dopamine, a chemical that helps the nerve cells in your brain communicate with each other. When dopamine is missing from certain areas of the brain, the messages that tell your body how to move are lost or distorted. There’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but proper treatment can help ease symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? 
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from patient to patient, and may appear slowly and in no particular order. Some of the most common include:

  • Shaking (resting tremor) can affect the hands, arms, and legs. Most often, the shaking is worse on one side of the body. 
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia) can affect the whole body. People may walk with short, shuffling 
    steps. They can also feel “frozen” and unable to move.
  • Stiffness (rigidity) occurs when muscles don’t relax. It can cause muscle aches and stooped posture.Other symptoms include balance problems, small handwriting, soft voice volume, reduced or “flat” facial expression, and sleep problems. Memory loss or other problems with thinking may also occur later in the progression of the disease. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so as always, consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?
There is no single test for Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis is based on your symptoms, medical history, and a physical exam. You may also have tests to help rule out other problems. These may include blood tests to look for diseases that cause similar symptoms. They can also include brain-imaging tests, such as an MRI.


Need to see a doctor? 

Visit www.lakelandhealth.org/physicians

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