Patient with Occupational Therapist

Parkinson's Therapy Available at West Holt Medical Services

Monday, May 6, 2019

ATKINSON, NE — Mershon Franssen from Chambers, Nebraska knows what it is like to live with Parkinson’s disease. Franssen was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative brain disorder in 2016.

“I started having tremors in my left hand, I was unable to focus, tired and moved very slow,” shared Franssen. That has changed for Franssen who completed a new therapy at West Holt Medical Services in Atkinson.

It’s called LSVT-BIG, which stands for Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG, and it helps individuals with Parkinson’s disease improve their movement and mobility used in everyday activities.

Stephani McGrew, OTR/L at West Holt Medical Services began offering LSVT-BIG to patients in 2017. Franssen was her first patient to go through the program.

“Mershon came to me very motivated to get back to her busy lifestyle. Helping her go through the program and achieve her goals was an incredible experience. It was amazing to watch Mershon excel through the challenges that Parkinson’s disease threw at her,” shared McGrew.  

Franssen completed the program with positive results. “I feel so much stronger now. I have better balance, movement and my spirits are lifted,” shared Franssen. “This therapy has done a lot of good in prolonging the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. It has enriched my life,” she added.

About LSVT-BIG Therapy
LSVT-BIG is an intensive, effective, one-on-one evidence based treatment designed to help individuals with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions address walking, balance, and activities of daily living.

It is a four week program consisting of four consecutive, one hour sessions each week with daily homework.

Individuals living with Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions often move differently, with gestures and actions that become smaller and slower. LSVT-BIG effectively trains improved movements for any activity, whether small motor tasks like buttoning a shirt or large motor tasks like getting up from a chair or maintaining balance while walking.

The treatment improves walking, self-care and other tasks by helping people reset how they perceive their movements with what others actually see. It also teaches them how and when to apply extra effort to produce bigger motions – more like the movements of everyone around them.

The treatment may be most effective in the early or middle stages of the Parkinson’s disease, when individuals can both improve function and potentially slow further symptom progression. Beginning LSVT-BIG therapy before significant problems with balance, mobility or posture will often lead to the best results, but it's never too late to start.

Ultimately, LSVT-BIG helps improve the mismatch between what you feel you're doing and what you're actually doing, making you more confident, comfortable and empowered. With one month of hard work, LSVT-BIG can open doors to a more active and independent life.

“The most rewarding part of being an Occupational Therapist is helping patients return to their daily activities,” shared McGrew. “Being able to offer this specific treatment here in Atkinson is very exciting as it improves the quality of life in those individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.”

To participate in the LSVT-BIG program, patients need a script from their provider. For more information or to schedule an appointment at West Holt Therapy Services, call (402) 925-1960.