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Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Posted on 03/10/23 by Michael in Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain and can affect your movement speed, amplitude, balance, walking, speech, swallowing and ability to complete activities of daily living. It is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease and there are almost one million people in the United States living with Parkinson’s disease. The cells affected by Parkinson’s disease affect movement control and are located in the Substantia Nigra of the brain. These cells use a neurotransmitter called Dopamine and over time, these cells are lost or become impaired which leads to a reduction in the amount of dopamine and the development of Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary based on the stage of the disease progression. The hallmark symptom of Parkinson’s disease is having a tremor of the hand while at rest, described as a “pill rolling” tremor. Resting tremors in Parkinson’s disease usually begin on one side of the body and, although the hand is the most common site, tremors can also occur in the arms, legs, feet or face. Another characteristic of Parkinson’s disease is smaller amplitude of movements, or hypokinesia. This can present in different ways including shorter steps when walking, smaller handwriting, or even softer speech. Although many symptoms are movement-related, there can also be non-movement related symptoms. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Resting tremor
  • Loss of smell
  • Smaller amplitude of movement (hypokinesia)
  • Slower movement (bradykinesia)
  • Inability to move or freezing episodes (akinesia)
  • Rigidity or stiffness in the limbs and trunk
  • Impaired walking
  • Impaired balance
  • Loss of unconscious movements including swinging arms, blinking, and smiling
  • Speech changes with softer and monotone speech patterns
  • Writing changes with smaller handwriting
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cognitive changes

Causes of Parkinson’s Disease

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown but genetics and environmental triggers, including ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides, may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. The risk of Parkinson’s disease increases with age and men are more 1.5 times more likely to develop of Parkinson’s disease than women. Age is also a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease with increased risk over the age of 65.

Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Physical, occupational and speech therapy offer unique skills to address the many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In Parkinson’s disease, movement feels normal but it may actually be much smaller or slower than a person realizes. Specific programs such as the LSVT BIG & LOUD programs can help patients to recalibrate their movement by practicing movements at a larger amplitude.


Physical and occupational therapists certified in LSVT BIG programs can help patients to address movement patterns for both small and large movement tasks. Small movement tasks may include writing and buttoning clothes. Large movement tasks may include walking, balance, dressing, getting up from a seat or getting into and out of bed. The focus of treatment is on increasing the amplitude of the movement to help regain normal movement patterns.


Working with an LSVT certified speech language pathologist can also help with the speech symptoms of Parkinson’s disease including soft voice, hoarseness, monotone voice and mumbled speech. The focus on speech therapy treatment is on increasing vocal amplitude by practicing speaking louder. The LSVT LOUD program has been shown to improve vocal loudness, breath support, voice quality, intonation and speech articulation.

Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Our Center has therapists certified in both the LSVT BIG & LSVT LOUD programs all in one convenient location. For more information about physical, occupational or speech therapy for Parkinson’s disease or to schedule an appointment, contact us online or call us today at 216-595-7345.










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