Posted on 1/12/2018 by Laila Hasham, P.T., DPT
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive movement disorder that affects one in 100 people over the age of 60. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18. It is the second most common degenerative brain disorder affecting adults (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common). Recent research indicates that at least one million people in the United States and more than five million worldwide have Parkinson’s, and there are around 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. People with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of falling and sustaining injuries due to their movement and balance impairment.
Treatment includes a combination of medication and physical therapy, and in some cases surgery. A physical therapist who has experience treating Parkinson’s can help a person improve mobility, strength and balance.
The universal benefits of exercise in helping everyone feel better and improving overall health are well documented. There is evidence that exercise has specific benefits for people with Parkinson's in staying active and improving balance and coordination. Exercise approaches have long played a role in the management of Parkinson’s disease, to maximize function and minimize secondary complications and inactivity.
For decades, the Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) has been an effective way to treat the symptoms of impaired voice and swallowing from Parkinson’s called LSVT LOUD®. In 2005, a new approach to therapy called LSVT BIG® was developed. LSVT BIG is a research-based exercise program specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s. It has been shown to improve function with significant improvements noted in trunk rotation, balance and faster walking with larger steps1. LSVT BIG is provided by physical and occupational therapists who have received specific training in this technique.
LSVT programs include the combination of:
An exclusive target on increasing amplitude, or loudness in the speech motor system, and bigger movements in the limb motor system.
A focus on sensory recalibration to help patients recognize that movements with increased amplitude are within normal limits, even if they feel ‘too loud’ or ‘too big.’
Training self-cueing and attention to action to facilitate long-term maintenance of treatment outcomes. In addition, the intensive mode of delivery is consistent with principles that drive activity-dependent neuroplasticity and motor learning2.
The LSVT BIG program includes 16 sessions of therapy over four weeks, at a frequency of four days each week. These sessions are provided in a one-to-one manner and include high intensity, whole body movements. Depending on the nature and severity of the condition, treatment sessions may focus on activities that are important to the patient and education to help transfers, bed mobility and hand movement. While other exercise interventions may focus on external cues and breaking down task components, LSVT BIG focuses on movement amplitude to achieve bigger and faster movements in the attempt to restore normal movement patterns and improve gait speed.
The program is both intensive and fun, and the hard work and dedication of the patient is integral to the success of the program. Find a local Select Physical Therapy center to see if the LSVT BIG program is offered near you.
For more information on Parkinson’s disease and the LSVT BIG program, please visit the LSVT Global website at www.LSVTGlobal.com.
Farley et al (2008) Intensity amplitude-specific therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 24(2) 99-114.
Cynthia Fox, Georg Ebersbach, Lorraine Ramig, Shimn Sapir. LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG: Behavioral Treatment Programs for Speech and Body Movement in Parkinson Disease. Parkinson’s disease. 2012;2012.
By: Laila Hasham, P.T., DPT. Laila is a physical therapist with Select Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Her primary expertise is in orthopaedics, but she is passionate about treating people with Parkinson’s and similar movement disorders in order to improve quality of life and overall function. Laila is pictured above treating a patient.
Posted on 11/28/2017 by Rachel Linden, M.A., CCC-SLP
People tend to choose a career path based on what they enjoy doing or a special skill they possess. I have always enjoyed working with children, so a career like speech language pathology suited me. Once I started my major courses in college, I found that speech language pathology didn’t just suit me, it helped turn my greatest personal weakness into my passion.
Food preferences are a personal choice, but our tastes typically adapt and change as we grow. Eating should be an easy and natural thing, seeing as we eat at least three times a day, but it doesn’t always pan out that way. There’s picky eating and then there’s problem feeding.
As a young child, describing me as a picky eater would be an understatement. At times, I could be a problem feeder. Living on “kid food” such as macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly was just fine with me. It always had to be the same brand, and my sandwiches had to be cut into triangles. No big deal; I was just a kid and would grow out of it, right?
As I got older, these habits stayed with me and food experiences became more difficult. I was anxious about birthday parties, sleepovers, meals with friends and dates, on edge about the available food options. There were some strategies I used to get by, like eating beforehand or stuffing snacks in my bag, but planning my life around food was difficult.
With marriage and family, life is about compromise and working together. My husband and I have had multiple conversations about my eating habits to ensure we can both eat and be happy. I’ve found success personally using some of the same treatment approaches that help my young clients and my son to become better eaters and enjoy less stressful mealtimes.
It took most of my life to realize that feeding contributed to the way I thought of myself, as well as my relationships with others. Through feeding training, I’ve been able to provide children and their families with interventions starting at a young age. Intervention provides a means to increasing skills and looking at foods in a new and more positive way, thus making mealtimes easier.
Feeding therapy using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach focuses on developing the necessary skills for self-feeding as well as safe chewing and swallowing. The SOS approach uses a hierarchy to help the feeder gradually move toward their highest level of tolerance. Together, these approaches can expose the feeder to new foods and help him or her to increase their positive experiences with new and non-preferred foods.
Picky eaters are not the only children who can benefit from feeding therapy. Children who have weight gain issues, oral motor deficits, limited oral intake and are transitioning off a feeding tube are candidates for feeding therapy. Children who are highly specific about brands, refuse food and experience difficulty transitioning to new textures are also candidates. Moreover, families who have “power struggles” at mealtimes or children who display bad mealtime behavior may benefit from feeding therapy.
Therapy meals address behaviors, sensory responses to food, oral motor improvements and diet expansion. A meal is set up to remove distractions to allow for a “family style” meal. Each food is presented one at a time to increase tolerance to the offered food. Therapeutic assistance is provided to move a child up the feeding hierarchy to their highest point of tolerance and then the next food is presented. Mealtime rules and positive language about mealtimes and food is an essential part of feeding therapy to build trust and learn expectations.
If you suspect your child might be a picky or problem feeder, ask your NovaCare or Select Kids speech therapist about opportunities to expose them to exciting new food experiences.
Rachel LindenBy: Rachel Linden, M.A., CCC-SLP. Rachel is a speech language pathologist with NovaCare Kids Pediatric Therapy in Crystal Lake, IL. She has been practicing since 2013 and is committed to helping children live their best lives!
Posted on 11/10/2017 by Select Physical Therapy and NovaCare Rehabilitation
For the management of some types of pain, prescription opioids can certainly help. However, there is not enough evidence to support prolonged opioid use for chronic pain. We sat down with Katie McBee, P.T., DPT, OCS, M.S., CEAS, regional director of our WorkStrategies Program, to ask her a few questions regarding opioid use, chronic pain and the benefits of physical therapy as a safe alternative to prescription medication.
In your opinion, what are the main reasons for the opioid epidemic in the United States?
There is no simple explanation as to what caused the opioid epidemic in the United States. Opiates are not a new drug and have been abused at other time periods in American history, but not nearly to the extent that is happening now. Initial research on opiate medications said they were effective and safe and addiction was rare when used for short-term pain1. The development of FDA approved OxyContin in 1995 had labeling that stated iatrogenic addiction was “very rare,” and a widespread marketing campaign to physicians started to build medical providers’ confidence in prescribing these medications to decrease pain-related suffering2. Add to that the 2001 standards implemented by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for organizations to improve their care of patients with pain medication and this is probably what catalyzed the beginning of our current opioid epidemic.
With medical providers focused on pain as a vital sign, pain quickly became the enemy and had to be eradicated to show successful management for many conditions with an increased focus on post-operative pain management. As drugs became more widely available, aggressively advertised and culturally acceptable, a three-fold increase in prescription rates for these medications ensued. With the increase in opioid prescription rates, death rates from side effects also increased by three-fold to more 16,000 by 2011.
What is the difference between chronic pain versus pain suffered as a result of an injury?
Pain is a mechanism designed to protect us from harm. Pain is not the enemy. A common misconception about pain is that it is not a simple cause/effect relationship. The amount of injury does not equal the amount of pain we experience. Pain is a complex process based on many areas of the nervous system and the brain communicating together to let us know what we need to prioritize and protect. The more threatening the brain perceives something, the more we potentially feel pain.
Acute pain or pain suffered immediately after an injury or surgery to the body’s tissues is a protection mechanism from the brain to remind you to protect the area so that no further harm is done. As the tissue heals and time passes, there is less threat of injury so the brain stops signaling, the pain eases and you slowly get back to normal activities.
In chronic pain, the tissues are not signaling danger to the brain as much as they are in acute pain. When the brain perceives threat for extended periods, it starts to change the nervous system to become a pain-producing machine. It creates new nerve junctions to make things hurt that wouldn’t normally hurt, like light touch on the skin. It can decrease the amount of pressure needed to create a pain signal. It creates more chemicals along the nervous system so it can create greater pain experiences with fewer stimuli. Research is still trying to figure out why some individuals have pain that goes away as the tissues heal and others have pain that persists despite the fact that the tissue has healed.
Individuals can be at risk of developing chronic or persistent pain for a number of reasons, including unhelpful coping strategies, stress, chronic illness and poor sleep habits. It appears the more emotional or physical stress going on at the time of the injury and/or during the healing process, the more at risk you can be of developing a persistent pain issue. A holistic approach to address some of these drivers of persistent pain is showing promise in being able to reduce the pain and get people with chronic pain back into their normal lives again.
Why is physical therapy important and what are some of the benefits to patients?
Physical therapy is an ideal treatment for many types of acute and chronic pain and should be a part of any single or multidisciplinary treatment plan for pain. The goal of physical therapy is to increase function and keep people in their meaningful life activities while they are healing. Physical therapists are trained to address many of the drivers of chronic pain and can perform testing and screening to see if your pain system is sensitized and adjust treatment to desensitize the pain system as well as address the functional limitations many people often experience when they are in pain.
Physical therapists have many tools they can use to decrease pain and desensitize the pain system. These tools include education on pain to discover what could be driving pain issues. Once the pain drivers are discovered, a physical therapist will develop a holistic plan to address these drivers, including increased activity, sleep hygiene, stress management skills and pacing techniques.
The best thing about physical therapy for pain is that the outcomes for some of the techniques are better than many medications and procedures available; plus, there are no negative side effects. If you or someone you know has an issue with pain, consult with a physical therapist as a component of care.
For more information on physical therapy and its benefits, or to request an appointment today, please contact a Select Medical outpatient physical therapy center near you.
Porter J, Jick H. Addiction rare in patients treated with narcotics. N Engl J Med. 1980;302:123.
Van Zee A. The promotion and marketing of OxyContin: commercial triumph, public health tragedy. Am J Public Health. 20:99 (2):221-227.
Posted on 10/31/2017 by Valerie L. Bobb, P.T., DPT, WCS, ATC
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a time to honor to those who have been affected by the disease. Approximately one in eight (12 percent) women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, so chances are you have been touched by somebody who has had breast cancer. The good news is breast cancer death rates continue to decrease each year. This leaves women (or men!) free to live a full life once they have recovered from treatment.
Any type of surgery can leave a patient with restriction in their neck, shoulder or arms, fatigue from chemotherapy or radiation and at risk for bone loss. However, physical therapists trained in treating cancer can design a program to regain motion, return to a healthy exercise program and return to all those things you love. That is why you fought so hard to overcome cancer!
Exercise is shown to reduce nausea, pain and stress and maintain a good weight. With your doctor’s permission and a physical therapists help, you can begin a program that focuses on moderate cardiovascular training, light weight training, flexibility and stress reduction.
Specific shoulder range of motion and strength exercises can help recovery from breast surgery, improve function, quality of life and body image and confidence. Resistance training is safe after surgery (once your restrictions have been lifted) and focuses on the muscles affected by the surgical procedure and what muscles you need to get back to your activities. Aerobic exercise is recommended three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes and can consist of walking, swimming or your favorite low impact exercise.
Both aerobic and strength training is vital to counteract bone loss related to chemotherapy. It is especially important if you are post-menopausal when you are diagnosed. Physical therapists can also teach you better ways to move and lift that will reduce chance of injury and excessive pressure on your spine. Fatigue is also another side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. Besides exercise, things such as deep breathing, stress reduction techniques and proper nutrition also help with recovery.
Many risk factors for breast cancers are beyond our control, such as age, family history and other medical conditions. However, you can control others, such as:
Weight: Being overweight, especially in postmenopausal women, is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Estrogen is stored in fat and, after menopause, is our body’s main source of estrogen. The more fat tissue you have, the higher your estrogen levels.
Diet: Diet is suspected as a risk factor; however, research is not clear on exactly what foods increase our risk. It is recommended to limit foods high in animal fat and read labels to make sure the source has limited added hormones and soy. A low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is generally recommended.
Exercise: There is growing evidence that shows exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of physical exercise five or more days a week.
Alcohol and Smoking: Studies show that breast cancer risks increase with regular amounts of alcohol consumption. Smoking in general increases alcohol levels. Please contact your local hospital for a cessation program.
Please contact your local women’s and men’s health physical therapist for guidance on an exercise program for breast cancer recovery and return to your life!
Valerie BobbBy: Valerie L. Bobb, P.T., DPT, WCS, ATC, women’s and men’s heath physical therapist for Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation Outpatient Services in Dallas, TX. Baylor, NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.