For adults with a progressive disease such as Parkinson's, every movement or word can be a struggle. That doesn't mean there's no hope for patients. A new therapy program at Avera Marshall has given a new outlook for those with early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
"Step big! Back big! Step big! Back big!" Shouted Bill Sullivan.
It may look like Bill is just working his muscles, but in fact he's working his mind. You see, Bill has been battling Parkinson's Disease for the better part of a decade.
"I don't know how to explain it, it just makes everything... You act normal again!" Said Sullivan.
These movements and exercises are a part of what's called Lee Silverman Voice Therapy (LSVT). The concept is simple: make your voice and your motions as big as possible.
"Start big! Out big! Down big! Up big! Out big! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ! Finish big!" Shouted Sullivan.
"Parkinson's as a disease tends to bring people down into smaller movements and tightens up their movements and tends to make them more stiff. This program is developed in order to ensure that they are getting as big of motion as they can." Said Dr. Laura Mikkelsen, a doctor of physical therapy with Big Stone Therapies at Avera Marshall.
The therapy is a month filled with intensive work but the real goal and purpose is to get patients to learn these exercises, do them on their own, and continue to think big!
"The importance is the carryover of the progress so that's why it's important that we do it four times a week for four weeks in order to get that repetition so that it gets hardwired into their brain." Said Dr. Mikkelsen.
"First I thought it was going to be boring but then it turned out to be very very interesting because I could feel an improvement three days after I started." Said Sullivan.
The side-by-side video proves it. After a month of LVST, Bill is an experienced veteran.
"My wife got me into this, she signed me up and got me to come and thank God for that!" Said Sullivan.
Parkinson's for many patients is a frustrating disease because the body has a hard time keeping up with the mind. That's where support from loved ones goes a long way.
"Really it affects people in a way that they lose confidence that they can do things that they love to do and when patients are done with us they seem to be much better off and so much more confident that they can go shoot a basketball or they can go to the grocery store and walk around and go grocery shopping with their spouse it's really amazing!" Said Dr. Nick Gigliotti.
Parkinson's was just one card in the hand Bill was dealt, but that doesn't mean it's a bad hand. Having the support of his wife, and two excellent therapists leads to a powerful combination.
"He dealt me four aces and I'm going to play blackjack and I'm going to win!" Said Sullivan.
And there's no doubt Bill's going to win, and win big.
The "big" exercises not only help the patients, but many of the caregivers who do the exercises with them also notice stronger muscles and joints that are less stiff. You can find a local therapist certified in Lee Silverman Voice Therapy by following this link and for more information about LSVT and other therapies offered just call 877-AT-AVERA.