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  • Joel J. Digris, MSPT, Owner Achieva Rehab

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You might say: "How can Joel think of Parkinson's Disease AND the impending 2016 presidential election and combine them in a blog? It's very easy in my eyes...So very often, patients and families who deal with Parkinson's Disease are in circumstances where hope dwindles slowly over time as it is a progressive neurological disorder. So too, is my hope that something positive might come from this presidential race dwindling slowly over time. This campaign season has become much like a progressive disorder of sorts.

Parkinson's Disease is a disorder of the central nervous sytem, the brain. There is a change in the functioning of the communication pathways within the brain in multiple areas. Those areas affected include the basal ganglia, which is an area that is critical to monitoring normal movement and postural CONTROL. Coordination and management of intensity of movement and initiation of movement is more and more affected over time. Tremors, freezing, balance issues, motor planning etc. are the most well known symptoms of the disorder.

With normal functioning pathways in this area of the brain, movement is fine tuned and monitored at a very rapid pace and with extreme accuracy which allows us to have control over each of the 600+ muscles in the body and the combinations of muscles that coordinate together for functional movement. With Parkinson's, if this area of the brain was a nightshift security guard, he'd be nodding off taking a nap every once in a while instead of being alert and motivated all of the time. The monitoring of the direction, distance, and intensity of movement by these communication pathways is not up to par, and thus, you see those symptoms. Other areas of the brain are also affected in the same way, but, most of the symptoms above are the ones that folks think of with this disease. Parkinson's Disease ranks second to Alzheimer's Disease in neurogenic disorders and therapy is infintiely valuable in the fight against the progression.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation recently recommended a fairly new, well studied intervention strategy specifically for Parkinson's Disease by the name of LSVT LOUD for speech needs and LSVT BIG for physical and occupational therapy needs. The program promotes BIG or LOUD movements respectively...large AMPLITUDE, high INTENSITY movements such as over-exagerrated stepping forward, backward, sideways, over-exagerrated trunk movements and as scientifically proven as the program is, it is amazing in it's simplicity. I love simplicity when it comes together with science...I love it! Results of studies have proven it more effective than traditional interventions.

I am personally excited to continue to learn more and more about this program and I have already implemented the program with my's really exciting to put an idea to the grindstone and push it along to success. Nevertheless, Parkinson's Disease needs more research to continue to move towards a cure, but, in the meantime, I am excited to continue to broaden the number of tools that I can offer to my patients to help them fight against the effects of this disease and dramatically slow down the pace at which hope is dwindling for them and their families. Let me know how the 2016 presidential race turns out.....I'll be in a bunker in Nova Scotia.

You can learn more about LSVT here:

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