Grant to aid Parkinson’s patients

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Kelly Joyner, an aquatic physical therapy assistant, assists a patient in the Bryant T. Aldridge therapy pool.


Staff Writer

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Nash UNC Health Care is expanding its range of treatments for Parkinson’s disease after receiving its third community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Elaine Weisner, a physical therapist and the clinical coordinator of rehabilitation services at Nash Day Hospital, announced the grant that provides funding for equipment and training to expand treatments to help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

A portion of the grant already has been used to purchase specialized equipment including an aquatic obstacle course to enhance balance training, a laser cane for gait training for patients with freezing gait and occupational therapy supplies for Activities of Daily Living training such as dressing, feeding and writing.

The hospital now also has access to new aquatic therapy equipment thanks to the grant. This equipment includes underwater hurdles, balance beams, a wiggle board and an adjustable reaching pole. The equipment uses the buoyancy of water to allow patients to begin improving their functional mobility with an extra measure of safety. 

Staff also received specialized training in using an aquatic environment to treating patients with the disease.This therapy is provided at the pool at the Bryant T. Aldridge Center.

The grant money also is being used for more training of staff members about the latest advancements and research about Parkinson’s disease. Members of the physical therapy staff at Nash Day Rehabilitation Services recently updated their certification through LSVT BIG, a research-based exercise used by specially trained therapists that involves the use of special exercises designed to improve the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

New programs are also being developed to help improve communication skills.

Nash Day Rehabilitation Services continues to offer the Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) through the use of the  LSVT LOUD protocol used by speech-language pathologists trained in its implementation. These therapists will now be adding Speak Out, a highly effective speech therapy program developed by the Parkinson Voice Project. This new program uses a series of speech, voice and cognitive exercises to strengthen the muscles used for speaking and swallowing and to teach patients how to speak with intent, according to a press release from Nash UNC Health Care.

This year’s grant funds also provided specialized training for occupational therapists at Nash UNC Health Care. The Parkinson’s Foundation, in conjunction with the American Occupational Therapy Organization, created a program entitled “Occupational Therapy: Across the Parkinson’s disease Continuum,” which is being used teach patients how to incorporate the exercises they should be doing at home into their daily routines. The program also teaches patients organizational skills and ways to reduce their stress levels.

For more information about programs for patients with Parkinson’s disease offered at Nash UNC Health Care, call Nash Day Hospital Rehab Services at 252-962-8845.