Healthbeat 4: Treating Parkinson’s Disease with BIG therapy

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — “When I first got diagnosed I had a little bit of shaking .. and I guess that’s the first sign of Parkinson’s.”

Terry Fetterman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than a decade ago.

He had been treating his symptoms with medication until his doctor suggested his try out MercyOne Siouxland’s LSVT BIG program.

“BIG helps with movement so they can not only have better balance and better walking but also make it easier to do daily tasks like put their coat on, tasks around the house or get dressed,” said Marty Walsh, physical therapist at MercyOne Siouxland, “With Parkinson’s, it affects more than the motor nerves it also affects your sensory nerves.

Through the BIG program, therapists teach patients to overcompensate motions in order to recalibrate their brain to relearn the movement patterns.

Another component of the BIG program is occupational therapy.

That’s where Parkinson’s patients focus on fine motor tasks to improve movements in the patient’s hands.

And for Terry, those were the tasks to help him live an easier life.

“We worked with him on bigger hand movements to make a sandwich for himself,” said Erin Roepke, MercyOne Siouxland Occupational Therapist, “Or being able to balance himself to help carry in groceries into the house for his wife. And really being able to get himself dressed in a timely manner because that was something he wanted to do better.”

Terry completed the intensive four-week program in January and made great improvements.

*He says he can reach more, has better balance and move a little better.*

“Something simple like putting on a jacket, I couldn’t do that by myself, I’m getting that over my shoulder and stuff by myself now,” said Terry Fetterman, “Every little bit of improvement gives you a little bit more satisfaction and a little more worth in your life you’re able to do more of the stuff that you couldn’t do before.”

The LSVT BIG program is four weeks long, typically an hour a day, four days a week.

There’s another component to the LSVT program that’s called LOUD.

LOUD helps Parkinson’s patients improve their speech.

The treatment focuses on improving loudness and immediate carry-over into daily communication.


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