Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. In Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. Over one million people in the U.S. are living with PD with males being affected 1.5 times more than females. There is a higher prevalence in Caucasians and the incidence increases with age, with most new cases being diagnosed over the age of 60. Even further, it occurs in 1 in 20 persons over the age of 80. Certain risk factors include family history and prolonged exposure to toxins such as herbicides or pesticides.

Many of the symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity, leading to signs of Parkinson’s disease. PD has no cure, but the symptoms can be managed. The four cardinal signs of PD are resting tremor, bradykinesia (slow movement), rigidity and postural instability. Common presentation of Parkinson’s include, flexed forward posture, mask-like face, quiet, fast, monotonous speech, small handwriting, shuffling gait.

In addition to the outward physical signs of Parkinson’s there can also be associated sensory effects such as restless leg syndrome, cramping pain, tingling sensations and a loss of smell. The mood and cognition can also be effected resulting in anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, panic, depression and apathy. Thinking can be slowed with a development of dementia in some. Difficulty sleeping or vivid dreams can result. Medically, one may present with orthostatic hypotension, dysphagia, and shortness of breath, rapid pulse, sweating, constipation, urinary frequency and fatigue.

Parkinson’s treatment can include medication, deep brain stimulation and exercise. At Kingston Care Center of Fort Wayne, we can help people proactively manage their PD. We offer specialized inpatient and outpatient therapy and wellness programs to help combat the impact that PD has on daily function. LSVT LOUD is a research-evidence based PD specific program designed to increase healthy vocal loudness in people with PD. This intensive, high effort vocal exercise program helps facilitate vocal calibration in each patient. Patients learn to recognize how loud or soft their voice actually is and the amount of effort required to consistently produce louder speech. LSVT LOUD is a standardized program conducted by a Speech Language Pathologist that has completed a certification course, and is performed 4 consecutive days per week for 4 weeks. Daily homework exercises are done during the treatment duration.

In addition to the LOUD portion of the program there is the LSVT BIG program designed to increase amplitude of movement across motor systems. This portion of the program uses intensive, high effort exercises and activity geared toward generalized sensory calibration. This teaches the patient how to recognize how “big” or “small” their movements actually are and the amount of effort required to consistently produce bigger movements. LSVT BIG is a standardized program conducted in 16 one-hour sessions, 4 consecutive days per week for 4 weeks, with daily homework practice and carryover exercises done for 30 days, with the intention of creating a life-long habit of exercise.

Parkinson’s disease is progressive and there is no cure, but your symptoms might be able to be managed. Remember, the best approach is to be proactive by keeping yourself informed, making good life style choices and by staying active.

This article was written by Aaron Jacobs, MOT, OTR/L, Director of Rehabilitation for Kingston Care Center of Fort Wayne.

Join us for a free Lunch and Learn at Kingston Residence to hear Aaron speak on Thursday, May 25th. Contact 415-7741 or email cgarrison@kingstonhealthcare.com to rsvp or to learn more.

Camille Garrison

Camille Garrison

Camille is a community leader, event organizer, trails supporter and more! After working near Waynedale for just over a year, she knew she wanted to call it home. She loves the friendliness and closeness of the community and have grown to be very passionate about seeing Waynedale prosper. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer