Helping Patients with Parkinson’s

The “shaking palsy” that physician James Parkinson identified more than 200 years ago is not always easy to diagnose. That’s because symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may appear slowly, in no particular order, and may vary from patient to patient. Early symptoms may be subtle and may prog­ress over many years before reaching a point where they interfere with normal daily activities.

Symptoms Are More Than Just Shaking

Tremors, stiffness or ri­gidity of the limbs and trunk, slowness of movement and problems with balance and coordination are the most obvious symptoms. But there are many other symp­toms that may also be indica­tors of PD, such as difficulty rising from a chair, lack of facial expression, painful foot cramps, depression or emotional changes (fear­fulness and insecurity), skin problems and increased sweating to name a few.


How Specialized Thera­pies Can Help

The tremors, stiff move­ments and speech and swal­lowing impairments as­sociated with Parkinson’s disease can make suffer­ers feel isolated and alone, but thanks to a specialized program offered through Methodist Therapy Ser­vices in Oak Ridge, there is help to lessen those frustra­tions.

LSVT “LOUD” is a pro­gram developed by LSVT® Global, which offers inno­vative treatment for speech communication, as well as physical and occupational therapy for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The “LOUD” program and its movement-focused coun­terpart, “BIG,” are both of­fered through Methodist Therapy Services. Patients work with speech and phys­ical therapists who have received specialized certifi­cations in the programs. In addition to Parkinson’s, the BIG program can be used to treat a multitude of neuro­logically based movement disorders.


What to Expect From Treatment

As Parkinson’s dis­ease progresses, patients become more stiff and rigid. Movements such as handwriting and steps be­come smaller. Therapists teach a series of exercises which help improve bal­ance, strength, flexibil­ity and gait. Exaggerated movements are used to improved functional tasks as well.

Patients come for four visits per week over a period of four consecu­tive weeks with the goal of having them perform exercises both at Method­ist Therapy and at home. After 16 visits, the goal is that movements become more instinctive and pa­tients automatically take bigger steps and use loud­er vocal volumes. Patients should also notice a great improvement in their abil­ity to perform functional tasks.

Likewise, the LOUD program teaches patients to utilize the muscles of breathing and voicing to increase vocal volumes. Added benefits are im­proved inflection, intelli­gibility, facial expressions and improved swallowing.

The BIG and LOUD therapies are not cures for Parkinson’s disease, but they can significantly improve function as the disease progresses. This alone can be life-changing for patients with Parkin­son’s disease.


How to Learn More

For more information about Methodist Ther­apy Services, click here or call (865) 835-3370. For patient testimoni­als to see how LSVT BIG or LOUD can help you or your loved ones you can visit

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