New therapy helps people with Parkinson's

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There's a new therapy that's helping people with Parkinson's disease.

It's making their day-to-day lives a little easier, and even slowing the progression of the disease.

62-year-old Todd Hebb was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease five years ago.

"I was having difficulty walking and keeping balance," Hebb said. "I had surgery on my back,slipped disk, and the doctor told me if my walking didn't improve to see a neurologist. I saw a neurologist and he diagnosed me with Parkinson's. I was in disbelief."

Todd did a lot of research and tried physical therapy and other treatment, but it was through his support group that he found out about the lSVT big program.

Parkinson's patients tend to make their movements like walking, smaller. So the outpatient therapy program aims to make movements bigger through a series of exercises, four times a week for four weeks.

"The earlier on in the disease progression that we can see people and teach them these exercises," said Physical Therapist Anneliese Massey. "This is a lifelong activity that they want to continue with and the exercise has been shown to slow the progression of the disease."

Another problem Parkinson's patients tend to have is that they speak quieter than they should.

Medstar Good Samaritan uses another therapy in conjunction with Big. It's called Loud.

"We do a set of exercises where they do a loud sustained 'ah' for 15 repetitions," said Speech Pathologist Kate Gerber. "We do voice pitch changes to a high pitch and a low pitch and then we work on functional phrases that the patient picks themselves so its more meaningful to them."

Restoring speech helps restore the patient's confidence.

"I can do more things with them," Hebb said. "I think my quality of life is improving and I can only say that this is one of the reasons why. It's this program."