Topeka therapy helps patients with Parkinson’s Disease

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)  According to the National Institute of Health, Parkinson’s Disease, affects about a half million people in the United States, and the numbers are growing.

There are a numerous medications and surgical procedures available to treat patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  But now therapy practices in Topeka, may be just as effective.

Topeka resident, Marlyn Burch, lives every day to the fullest, after being diagnosed 2 and a half years ago with Parkinson’s disease.

“It is a progressive disease, which means once it starts, it only gets worse with time. There’s no cure for it but there are treatments and surgeries that will reduce disability, ” said Dr. Hartej S. Sethi from the Cotton O’Neil Neuro & Spine Center.

Although medication is typically the first line of defense for the disease, local therapy options are making a big difference for patients with disabilities from the disease.

Topeka Occupational Therapist Karen Farron says, “When we see patients we see a variety of things. they’d say it takes a tremendous amount of time to do routine things. They have difficulty getting up from a chair. They have become dependent on family members. Friends and family can’t hear them speak when they’re talking so they are often ignored.”

Many patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, are referred for physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Farron says, “you’re doing lots of repetitions and making lots of changes that are kind of unconscious for most of us.”

Topeka therapists are using the national LSVT Big – Loud method, to help with common symptoms, like slowed movement and speech changes.

“The idea is that someone is working on physically moving through greater space or they’re using their voice to be louder,” said Farron.

“It certainly does help with decreased falling, increased mobility, better ability to converse and so on and so forth,” said Dr. Hartej.

All work and no play, is never fun!  So Karen puts therapy practices into action, based on the patients interests. For Marlyn, it’s all about the music.

“We’re taking advantage of his good sense of rhythm. He’s been involved in music his whole life and using the tempo and getting his limbs to move at just the right time,” said Farron.

And it seems to be working.

“Despite that he’s had some challenges, he’s feeling pretty positive about what he’s able to accomplish.”

Although symptoms may not be a problem at first, Karen recommends patients get seen when they are initially diagnosed. This can help to possibly minimize future symptoms from the beginning, just like it’s done for Marlyn.