Everyone has heard of Parkinson’s Disease, but many people do not know what it is or what occurs when a person is suffering from it. Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the central nervous system of middle-aged and elderly people. This means that symptoms are chronic and worsen over time. About 1 million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is most commonly linked with the overall degeneration of the basal ganglia and very low levels of dopamine. The basal ganglia is the structure at the base of the brain that is responsible for coordination and movement. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. Overall, Parkinson’s Disease causes a person to lose control of their muscles, balance and coordination.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease vary depending on the person, their age, and the stage of Parkinson’s that they are suffering from. The number one symptom that is prominent in most cases, and often the first one noticed, is tremors. Tremors are uncontrolled shaking in body parts such as hands, arms and legs. Tremors occur when the person is awake and sitting or standing still. Tremors will stop once that particular body part is moved by the person. Some of the other symptoms include stiff or aching muscles, limited movement when changing position, weak face and throat muscles that can lead to drooling and choking, softened speech, difficulty walking, loss of balance, and “freezing”. “Freezing” occurs typically while walking and is a quick inability to move or take another step. “Freezing” often leads to loss of balance and falls.
One of the new treatments that has been found to help reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and thus improve a person’s overall quality of life if physical therapy. Physical therapy that is used for Parkinson’s Disease patients is called “compensatory therapy”. It is called this, because although Parkinson’s Disease is currently irreversible, physical therapy helps to compensate for some of the symptoms that affect the people suffering from the disease. The goal of the physical therapy that is taught to Parkinson’s patients is to teach them exercises that can be done at home to strengthen and loosen muscles that are typically affected. The physical therapy that is currently being performed on Parkinson’s patients has been found to help with balance issues, coordination difficulty, immobility, muscle weakness, pain, and fatigue brought on by exerting oneself in order to perform daily tasks while suffering from the disease.
LSVT Big is one of these physical therapy programs that has been developed for people with Parkinson’s Disease. LSVT Big is composed of 16, hour long sessions that are given over one month. Each week is composed of 4 individual, hour long sessions that work to decrease the toll that Parkinson’s Disease takes on a person’s body. The intense nature of this program is designed to improve the capabilities of the specific muscles that are typically affected by Parkinson’s Disease.
In the past few months, 3 women at Access Physical Therapy & Wellness have become certified by LSVT Big to help people that are suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Physical Therapist Kristin Banse, Physical Therapist Assistant Ellen Knapp-Hayden, and Dr. Amanda Staffiero chose to become certified. Ellen Knapp-Hayden says she made the choice to become certified because “We were looking for a forward-thinking therapy we could learn, that was needed in the communities we serve”.
We feel like we have the best physical therapists around. Did you know you don’t need a referral to get help from a Physical Therapist? Direct access is available for you, please call us and set up an evaluation so we can help get you back on your feet. In Orange County we offer Physical Therapy in Chester, Goshen, Monroe, Port Jervis, and Montgomery. Westchester County has Physical Therapy in Armonk, Bedford, and Hawthorne. In Ulster County we offer Physical Therapy in Wallkill, while in Sullivan County you can get Physical Therapy in Liberty. To round out our 12 locations in New York, those living in Rockland County can go to Physical Therapy in New City as well as Pomona. If you happen to live in PA, we also have Physical Therapy in Milford and Dingmans Ferry of Pike County. Give us a call today!