Image of man in wheelchair talking to nurseEmbassy Healthcare’s Longmeadow community offers a unique way to help Parkinson’s disease patients improve their speech and limb movements.

The LOUD speech therapy program was developed by LSVT Global in 1993 to assist those with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions who find it difficult or impossible to communicate. In 2014, the company developed the BIG program to apply these same concepts to physical movements.

Getting LOUD

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) identifies three factors causing speech problems in Parkinson’s patients:

  1. Motor: Slow, jerky muscle movements affect speech via the tongue, larynx and diaphragm.
  2. Sensory: Processing disorders may make them unable to tell that their voice is getting too quiet.
  3. Cueing: Although they can respond to directions to speak louder, they may find it difficult to cue the behavior on their own.

LOUD is a four-week program where patients undergo intensive training four times a week. Addressing all three of the speech problem causes, vocal exercises help train subjects to control and monitor their voice volumes. 

The program does not instruct Parkinson’s patients to yell, but instead speak strongly and firmly. It’s most effective during the early to middle stages of the disorder.

BIG Movements

BIG encourages patients to move with exaggerated movements, regardless of whether they’re walking or buttoning their shirt.

Physical therapists use techniques to address bradykinesia (slow movements), hypokinesia (small movement) and kinesthetic awareness (sensory deficits). BIG, also a 16-session program, is most successful in patients who have difficulty rising out of bed or a chair.

Becky Farley, Ph.D., PT, the creator of BIG, likens the program to accelerated tai chi. There are reports from physical therapists of patients previously unable to stand who could walk up to half a mile after receiving BIG therapy.

For more information on Longmeadow’s BIG and LOUD therapy programs, call 888-975-1379 or schedule a tour.