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Parkinson’s Disease patient makes dramatic progress

September 21, 2017

When Helen McIntosh was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), she didn’t expect noticeable changes to appear quite so soon. She was dismayed when, not quite two years later, she caught sight of her reflection in a glass door. Poor posture, an uneven gait – typical symptoms of PD – were already marking her as one of its victims.

As a participant in the Dalton, Georgia PD Support Group, Ms. McIntosh knew well enough the disease’s predictable progression. But she didn’t know what to do about it. Then one day a physical therapist from Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation talked to her group about the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) program, and new, exciting possibilities opened up to her mind.

“I went up to the speaker afterwards and said, ‘I need you!’” says Ms. McIntosh. She enrolled in Siskin Hospital’s LSVT BIG program for physical therapy and enthusiastically committed to the intensive four-day-a-week program for a month.

“It was fabulous!” says Ms. McIntosh. “It’s definitely one of the most dramatic things that helped me with my movement difficulties.”

Because of the muscle rigidity and limited movement that often accompanies Parkinson’s, range of motion can be severely diminished. The LSVT BIG program helps patients establish a life-long habit in BIG PRACTICE! It trains in bigger movements and translates them into real-world, everyday activities. The program drives intensive and high-effort practice that teaches patients the effort required to produce normal movements.

By the time Ms. McIntosh started the program, several typical Parkinson’s deficits were evident: issues with balance, walking, back pain, and softer speech. She wanted to correct these if possible, improve her mobility, and decrease her fall risk. Determinedly, she made the two-hour round-trip drive from Dalton for her therapy sessions, where her therapists focused on balance, movement and walking with their “star pupil,” as they came to call her.

“Helen was always prompt and ready to work,” says Vickie Blalock, PT. “She was a model patient, had a great attitude, and worked hard during our sessions and also at home.”

Besides the 16 therapy sessions in the program, Ms. McIntosh was given “homework” exercises to practice with, which she categorized with the key words “lunge,” “step back,” “drop back,” and “twist” to help her remember specific movements. Like all patients in the Siskin Hospital LSVT program, Ms. McIntosh was continually re-assessed to track progress and fine-tune her treatment regimen. There came the day, however, when she’d completed her 16 sessions in the LSVT BIG program, and later, the LVST LOUD program, and it was time to celebrate because she’d met all her goals.

“My movements became fluid, my posture and gait improved,” says Ms. McIntosh. “And my speech improved! The changes to my body were stunning!”

“Having a patient like Helen sure makes our job a lot easier,” says Vickie. “She worked hard, and we saw results that were very encouraging.”

“I’ve told so many PD sufferers about Siskin Hospital’s LSVT program,” says Ms. McIntosh. “It has changed me radically. My quality of life is so much improved. I’m really indebted to Siskin Hospital.”

Learn more about the LSVT BIG and LOUD Program at Siskin Hospital.