LSVT therapies help to control the disease

The bad news is there exists no cure for Parkinson’s disease.

The good news is that there are ways to control the symptoms that otherwise can severely limit a person’s activities, according to local medical professionals.

Dr. Donald Dworek, a UPMC Susquehanna neurologist, recently addressed the symptoms and treatments for Parkinsons.

The disease, he said, often is marked by any of various kinds of tremors in certain parts of the body.

Essentially, the three types are resting, postural and action tremors.

Often, he noted, the tremor or shaking begins in a limb.

“Over time, Parkinson’s disease may reduce your ability to move and slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming,” he said.

People with the disease may have problems writing or speaking. Parkinson’s can cause muscle stiffness, impaired posture and affect unconscious movements such as blinking or smiling.

Other possible symptoms include bladder problems, blood pressure variations, sexual dysfunction and fatigue.

Ariel Muhs, UPMC Susquehanna speech and language therapist, noted that Parkinson’s disease sufferers who experience speech problems have

been helped through LSVT LOUD therapies, named for Mrs. Lee Silverman (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment — LSVT — and developed in 1987).

“There is a critical need for speech treatment in Parkinson’s disease,” she said.

Of the 10 million people who suffer worldwide from Parkinson’s, 89 percent have a speech or voice problem.

Many of them speak in a low or monotone voice, making for difficult dialogue with others.

Complicating the problem is that they often don’t perceive that they are unable to amplify their voices.

The LSVT therapy, Muhs noted, helps them increase the loudness of their speech. The LSVT Big therapy is an exercise program for improving body movements including walking, which can be impaired by the disease.

Joy Proctor, UPMC Susquehanna physical therapist, said the health system has in place a 16-hour LSVT BIG therapy program designed to help Parkinson patients.

“We try to change their internal cuing so they realize they need to move bigger,” she said.

The exercise program, while effective, must include follow-ups after the regular program of therapy is finished.

“LSVT BIG is one type of physical therapy program that has the potential to offer improvements in movement and quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease,” Proctor said. “It is possible to take charge of your life even with Parkinson’s disease.”