Rachel Brougham firstname.lastname@example.org (231) 439-9348
9:12 AM EDT, July 21, 2011
Mike Hanahan is working on being LOUD with his voice and BIG with his movements.
The 73-year-old Walloon Lake resident, who was diagnosed in April of 2010 with Parkinson’s disease, knows that if he doesn’t work on keeping his voice and his range of motion, it will make it difficult for him in the coming years, so he’s trying to be as loud and big as possible.
Hanahan is the first graduate of Northern Michigan Regional Hospital’s Lee Silverman Voice Treatment LOUD and BIG therapy, a revolutionary treatment for patients with Parkinson’s.
Northern Michigan Regional Hospital has the only Lee Silverman certified therapists in Northern Michigan. The program was largely made possible from a donation from the Tom and Ann Stallkamp Colleague Education Fund through the Northern Michigan Regional Health System Foundation.
Five therapists are currently certified to perform the therapy.
The therapy focuses on principles of neuroplasticity, including forced use, intensive practice, repetition, increasing complexity and feedback and motivation.
“Patients with Parkinson’s often experience their voice becoming quieter and quieter,” said Christina Calcaterra, a physical therapist with Northern Michigan Regional Health System and a certified Lee Silverman therapist. “Therapists found that just being loud, patients improved on the volume of speech, facial expressions and with swallowing.”
Another component of the therapy is big movements.
Patients perform a set of 10 exercises that helps them with a wide range of motion.
“A big part of Parkinson’s is the loss of muscle and ability to perform tasks,” added Tanya Trend-Wilson, an occupational therapist with Northern Michigan Regional Health System and certified Lee Silverman therapist. “So by performing these big movements, they decrease the chance of falls and increase their strength and speed of walking.”
Calcaterra and Trend-Wilson noted that many patients with Parkinson’s don’t realize just how much they’ve lost in their voice and their movements until they begin the therapy program.
The Lee Silverman therapy is specific to the individual, so the goal of each patient is different. Most patients attend therapy an hour a day, four days a week.
For some patients with more advanced Parkinson’s, the goal is to help them be safe at home.
For others, like Hanahan, the goal is to help him continue to perform everyday tasks such as dressing himself and allow him to continue doing things he loves such as gardening and playing with his grandchildren.
“Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and with the help of these ladies, they showed me what I could do but was hesitant to do,” Hanahan said. “Doing exercises that make you more comfortable and exercises to help you with things you didn’t know were a problem, like my lowered voice, have made a lot of difference.”
Hanahan now works on his exercises at home and like other patients, will check in with the therapists again six months after graduation to re-evaluate their condition and begin the program over again.
“Research shows that if patients start Lee Silverman early, it can help slow down and possibly prevent the progression of Parkinson’s,” Calcaterra said. “The program is demanding and we ask for a commitment from the patient, but it will help them greatly.”
For more information on the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment LOUD and BIG therapy, call (231) 487-4200.
Copyright © 2013, Petoskey News