New “Big & Loud” Therapy Program Offers New Hope for Parkinson’s Patients

The therapy department at Snyder Village now offers a new program to help patients with Parkinson’s disease slow motor deterioration and improve function. The “Big and Loud” Therapy Program uses specific exercises to retrain sensory, motor and cognitive functions through an intensive exercise approach. Based on 20 years of research, the program uses exercises focusing on physical movement as well as speech.

The therapy is based on the Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) which has been used for decades as an effective way to address deficits of speech caused by the disease. The personalized sessions help patients transform slow, soft or monotone speech and restore normal, functional communication. That is called LSVT-Loud. Then, in 2002, the LSVT – Big protocol was introduced as an exercise approach to be administered by trained therapists. The same principles applied to the Loud (speech) component are applied to minimize or slow the progression of the disease’s disabling physical effects. The exercise regime focuses on large amplitude, exaggerated movement patterns, which lead to smoother, larger, safer movements and improved quality of life.

The LSVT Big and Loud Program includes four sessions a week for four consecutive weeks. Each session is an individualized, one-hour treatment session that includes both physical and speech therapy. Participants have daily homework practice (every day, not just on “therapy days”) as well as daily assignments.

This treatment focuses on the brain’s ability to re-organize itself by forming new connections throughout life with the goal of having the repetitive exercises help the patients to establish “big movements” in day-to-day life. Larger movements help patients to move better and more safely. Similarly, the “loud” aspect of the program allows patients to learn and maintain improved speech patterns and volume.

Chris Berns is a physical therapy assistant who has completed special training to qualify her as an LSVT Big therapist. “What makes LSVT Big unique is the training and adherence to guidelines for delivery of the program. It is the same anywhere you go, and that consistency is what makes it successful. I also appreciate the vast amount of research that backs up the success of the program,” Berns said. “It is a treatment program we can believe in.”

Maureen Sylvester, physical therapist at Snyder Village, added, “This treatment intervention reinforces what “normal” movements should feel like through high repetition exercises that directly impact normal, everyday activities such as sit-to-stand and walking.”

Snyder Village resident Mary Jones has completed the Big and Loud program through the Therapy Department here. She admits that she was not interested at first. “I am busy, and I didn’t think I could spend that much time doing exercise,” Mary admitted when considering the rigors of the program. “My kids had to talk me into it. When they heard about the class, they were all for it. I had a great therapist, and it wasn’t all exercise. We worked on problems I had from Parkinson’s, like my handwriting, walking, dialing the phone, being ‘stuck in the mud,’ as well call it.

“When all my sessions ended, I went to my doctor who was so pleased with my improvement in everything, he convinced me to keep up with my exercise and more therapy,” Jones said.

Snyder Village administrator Heather O’Brien is excited to offer this program not only for Snyder Village residents but also for the greater community. “My grandfather had Parkinson’s so I understand the challenges of patients with this disease, and also the challenge it presents to their families and caregivers. I am so proud that the Snyder Village Therapy Department can offer this great program for our community. This program brings hope and the opportunity for improved quality of life for Parkinson’s patients, and that is a wonderful thing.”

Patients with Parkinson’s Disease should ask their doctor about the Big and Loud Program or call the Snyder Village Therapy Department, phone (309) 367-4300, Ext. 101, for more information.