Pictured from left to right are Claire Stulll, occupational therapist; Kelsey VonderHaar, speech therapist; and Yvonne Robison, physical therapist.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month offers the opportunity to learn more about the disease, its symptoms, and opportunities to support loved ones with the disease. Quincy Medical Group (QMG) offers therapies for patients with Parkinson’s disease to help improve their daily function, speech, and independence.

Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, or LSVT, is a two-part rehabilitation program developed to assist patients with Parkinson’s disease. LSVT LOUD focuses on speech, while LSVT BIG focuses on whole-body movements for activities of daily living.

QMG Speech Therapist Kelsey Vonderhaar is certified in LSVT LOUD, and QMG Occupational Therapist Claire Stull and QMG Physical Therapist Yvonne Robison are certified in LSVT BIG. Both therapies have proven to offer benefits to patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Although every patient experiences Parkinson’s disease differently, VonderHaar said beginning the therapies in the early stage of the disease is suggested, but both LSVT LOUD and BIG can offer support at any stage.

“Recommendations are to start the therapy at the first sign of symptoms. Even if you have just been diagnosed and you’re not showing many symptoms with voice, communication, or physical difficulties, it’s important to get evaluated.”

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and more than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. The progression of symptoms varies from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease. People with Parkinson’s may experience:

  • Tremor
  • Bradykinesia
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems
  • A soft or low voice
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Reduced speech intelligibility

LSVT LOUD is the first scientifically documented program for treating voice and speech disorders for people with Parkinson’s disease and other similar neurological conditions. LSVT LOUD is proven to improve vocal loudness, intonation, voice quality, and potentially swallowing of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. This is achieved by focusing on one simple target: increasing vocal loudness.

LSVT BIG is an exercise treatment program for people with Parkinson’s disease. It is based on the principle that the brain can learn and change. Like the LOUD therapy, LSVT BIG uses a single target: BIGNESS of movement to improve movement quality and balance in patients.

“Specifically, research shows that LSVT BIG treatment can lead to faster walking with bigger steps and arm swings, better balance, and more ability to twist at the waist. Clinicians also report that LSVT BIG often helps people with buttoning their clothes, writing, and other smaller-movement (“small motor”) tasks, as well as large (“large motor”) movements like dressing, getting up from a seat, and getting into bed,” VonderHaar shared.

Both programs teach patients skills necessary for them to continue consistent and effective home exercise programs to limit the return of symptoms.

For more information on the LSVT LOUD and BIG therapies, call QMG at (217) 222-6550, ext. 3282.