Treatment for Parkinson's Patients

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FREMONT, Neb. One million people in the United States are currently living with Parkinson's Disease. There are 15, 000 Nebraskans affected. The disease not only impacts a person's movements and motor skills, close to 90-percent of people with Parkinson's will also have problems with their speech . In this month's Health Check, Serese Cole shows us how a treatment program at Fremont Health is working to help patients keep moving and communicating.

Steve Hoden delivered some of his best sermons inside the Salem Covenant Church in rural Oakland.
He pastored the church for nearly 15 years - until his voice began to fade.

"The tendency is for your voice to get soft and softer and softer," said Hogan.

It happened soon after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

"One day you might be talking and it sounds just fine - the next day you can barely be heard, " said
Ruth Anderson, Speech Pathologist at Fremont Health's Rehabilitation Department.

It's hear job to get patients like Steve speaking up and speaking out again.
She does it through a number of exercises that work to stimulate his voice box muscles.
But speech problems aren't the only challenge people with Parkinson's face.

"People will notice their steps are getting smaller, their balance is getting a little worse, they're having some trouble getting up and down from chairs or in and out of bed, said Beth German.

German is a Physical Therapist at Fremont Health's Rehab Department. She says there are exercises that help. They focus on big movements and retraining the brain.

"They're moving better, they're walking more stable , they're taking bigger steps," she said.

Serese Cole, "The Parkinson's treatment program lasts four weeks, but it doesn't; end there. Patients are encouraged to keep practicing everything they learned.

"They're basically told that they're going to have to continue practicing for the rest of their life," Anderson said.

Steve knows the benefits.

"If you don't work those muscles - they're going to start getting weak," he said.

While he retired in august, thanks to therapy - he can still use his voice to minister.

"I'm the pastor of our exercise group. Every time we go out to eat (they say) 'okay Steve time for you to pray.'
I've got a whole new congregation - I love it."

For better and longer lasting results, patients should seek treatment as soon as they're diagnosed - and not wait for symptoms to begin. For more information about the LSVT LOUD or LSVT BIG treatment programs or to schedule an evaluation, contact the Fremont Health Rehabilitation Department at 402-727-3329.