Lydia Arana, 79, is a soft-spoken woman, living with Parkinson’s disease but not willing to let it keep her down.
The Matawan resident was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disease in 2007 and has lived with fluctuating levels of intense tremors for years, but last year she started the LSVT BIG & LOUD Parkinson’s programs at CentraState. It’s a tough protocol, but one Lydia gently says has made a difference.
She says the program isn’t easy, but she’s committed to it. “It has helped a lot,” she says. “Those therapists are great there.”
Jennifer Morelli, PT, DPT, and LSVT-certified, is one of Lydia’s physical therapists. She worked with Lydia, who attended sessions along with her husband, George. Morelli says she followed the LSVT protocol of performing the eight maximal daily exercises and then focused on functional activities, such as transfers in and out of a chair, a car and a bed.
“Everything is geared toward large movements,” Morelli says. Exercises focus on sitting, standing, static holds, standing/stepping, weight shifting, trunk rotation, arm swinging and walking, among other tasks.
Lydia completed both the BIG and LOUD programs, which are hour-long sessions held four times a week for four weeks. After completing the protocol, patients are sent home with exercises to complete on their own. Patients are to continue their daily exercises with reassessments at intervals specified by the treating therapist, which Lydia has been doing. Brittany Bonner, who was also Lydia’s LOUD speech therapist, says that Lydia was incredibly dedicated to the program “She always gave 100 percent during treatment,” Bonner says. “It was rewarding to see how Lydia progressed and how drastically her loudness and vocal quality improved.”
Spouses are a big part of post-program support. “The spouses and partners are just terrific,” says Jacqueline Acampora, LSVT program assistant, who noted how especially attentive Lydia’s husband was during the therapies. When he saw how much better his wife was doing, Acampora says, “I saw tears in his eyes.”
For more information about CentraState’s Parkinson’s services, call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).