Parkinson's Disease Treatments
Tamara Thornburg is physical therapist and is the outpatient rehabilitation manager at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. She can be reached (602) 865-5830.
Question: What is Parkinson’s disease and what treatment is available?
Answer: Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that interferes with speech and motor function, making it difficult for those with the disease to function normally. It’s a degenerative disease, which means its symptoms, such as tremors, impaired coordination and diminished speech get worse over time.
Research is currently being done to investigate why Parkinson’s disease occurs, but results are still inconclusive. However, there are treatments that can help offset Parkinson’s impact on patients’ lives.
LSVT Big and Loud therapy is an intensive month-long program that trains those with Parkinson’s disease to recalibrate their speech and motor functions to counteract the effects of the illness. Named after Parkinson’s patient Lee Silverman, doctors in Scottsdale developed the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment in 1987.
In the program, patients are taught to speak loudly and move big. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like – patients learn to exaggerate their movement and speech. While their aim is to get big and loud, in reality they’re simply readjusting their understanding of what is normal when it comes to moving and speaking.
Parkinson’s sufferers often find their movements, such as walking, become smaller, and their voice level drops significantly. Patients often do not realize just how much function they’ve lost until they have learned to get big and loud. Those who go through the program often come away feeling like they’ve taken back control of their lives. As one man told me, “Before I was surviving life, but now I’m living it.”