Horizon Health Provides Resources for Parkinson’s Disease

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  • Written By: Horizon Health

Each April, Parkinson’s Awareness Month is an opportune time to share tips and resources that help make life better for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurological disease that affects one million Americans. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the US, with only Alzheimer's disease affecting more people, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person. They can include tremors; slowness of movement; difficulty with balance, swallowing, chewing, and speaking; cognitive impairment and dementia; and mood disorder.

Horizon Health is working to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease and offers the following programs and services:

“LSVT BIG” Program

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow the decline in quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.

BIG is a one-on-one physical therapy program that focuses on improving body movements. It involves refining smaller movements, such as self-care, to larger movements like getting up from a sofa or maintaining balance while walking. The program’s guiding principle is “Think BIG!” as it reteaches patients how normal movement should feel.

Sarah Jo Bouton, doctor of physical therapy, and Sheryle Hendry, physical therapist assistant, are certified BIG program instructors at Horizon Health. For more information, call the Rehabilitation Services Department at (217) 466-4244.

“LSVT LOUD” Program

This program is considered the “gold standard” of speech treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease. The one-on-one sessions improve communication by helping the patient speak with a voice and volume that is easy for others to hear and understand.

Exercises help strengthen the voice box (larynx), speech system, and “reset” the patient’s perception of how loud he or she is speaking. As a result, patients can experience better articulation, changes in swallowing, improved facial expressions while talking, and even speech-related brain changes.

Brenda Stevens, speech-language pathologist, is a certified LOUD program instructor at Horizon Health. For more information, call the Rehabilitation Services Department at (217) 466-4244.

Parkinson’s Support Group

This free support group is for individuals with Parkinson's disease and their caregivers. It meets the first and third Wednesday of each month, from 2 to 3 pm, at Senior Care, a service of Horizon Health.

The group provides tips to improve speech and body movement, coping strategies, emotional support, and free access to healthcare professionals. Senior Care’s Connie Rhoads and Brittney Isom, social workers, and Floyd Young, registered nurse, facilitate the group. For more information, call (217) 466-4170.