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New programs to aid Parkinson's patients

031217COMparkinsons

Back row, from left are Bridgette Duarte, Yetunde Bandele, Blake Tedder, Tina Campbell, Keisha Robinson and Kelly Day. Front Row, from left are Marcia Ratcliff and Elaine Weisner.

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From Contributed Reports

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60.

Despite medical advances, a diagnosis still depends primarily on identifying the core symptoms — tremor, slowness and stiffness — as originally described by James Parkinson, who discovered the disease almost 200 years ago.

Slowness in movement, known as bradykinesia, causes difficulty with repetitive movements making it difficult to button a shirt, cut up food or brush one’s teeth. People with bradykinesia may walk with short, shuffling steps and their speech may be affected, becoming quieter and less distinct as the disease progresses.

To help those with Parkinson’s disease cope with these problems, physical therapists and speech language pathologists with the Nash Day Hospital Rehabilitation Team at Nash UNC Health Care were recently certified in two new programs: LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD.

Thanks to a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation secured by Elaine Weisner, clinical coordinator of rehabilitation services at Nash Day Hospital, six members of the Nash Day Hospital rehabilitation team have attended training and are now certified in the LSVT programs.

Blake Tedder, community development manager with the National Parkinson Foundation, recently visited Nash Day Hospital to speak with physical therapists and speech language pathologists about the new programs.

During his visit, Tedder commended the group on their efforts to educate and engage patients and for making presentations to community civic groups, support groups and physician’s offices about Parkinson’s disease and the LSVT programs.

In addition to local presentations, two of the Nash Day Hospital therapists will be speaking about the program at the N.C. Nurses Association conference in April.

The LSVT BIG program focuses on improving movement, balance, and walking by utilizing movements perceived by the patient as exaggerated, but appearing normal to those around them. LSVT LOUD emphasizes speech volume and clarity to help patients be understood in conversation.

“As the disease progresses, a patient’s movements become smaller and smaller,” said OP Rehab Services/Joint Rehabilitation Center Supervisor Marcia Ratcliff. “It’s not just walking. It’s reaching, correcting balance, every motion they make gets smaller. LSVT BIG teaches them to recalibrate those movements.”

Physical therapist Tina Campbell added, “Both of these programs provide practical, usable skills that patients with Parkinson’s disease can put into action right away. Taking bigger steps and speaking louder soon become natural  — their ‘new normal.’”

A primary risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age, and with America’s Baby Boomer generation hitting its 60s, we are likely to see a dramatic increase in the incidence of this disease, from 1.5 million today to an estimated 4 million cases within the next 25 years.

Anyone interested in the LSVT programs can call Tina Campbell at 252-962-8945.

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