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Parkinson’s patients encouraged to be big and loud at weekly exercise program

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

Speech language pathologist Amy Mandaville and other physical and occupational therapists are leading the BIG and LOUD Crowd, a free physical and voice exercise program for Parkinson’s patients designed to help them stay mobile and heard. The program is 1-1:45 each Wednesday in the cycle studio at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond, 1601 S. Water St. in Burnet. Courtesy photo

Speech language pathologist Amy Mandaville and other physical and occupational therapists are leading the BIG and LOUD Crowd, a free physical and voice exercise program for Parkinson’s patients designed to help them stay mobile and heard. The program is 1-1:45 each Wednesday in the cycle studio at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond, 1601 S. Water St. in Burnet. Courtesy photo

Seton Highland Lakes Rehabilitation wants Parkinson’s patients to be big and loud, and they’re helping people get there.

The facility is offering the free BIG and LOUD Crowd exercise program from 1-1:45 p.m. each Wednesday in the cycle studio at the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond, 1601 S. Water St. in Burnet. No reservations are needed; just show up.

The BIG and LOUD Crowd exercises are led by speech therapists and physical or occupational therapists with the purpose of helping Parkinson’s patients continue being vocal and mobile.

“It’s easy to isolate yourself and not do the exercises,” said Amy Mandaville, a speech language pathologist for Seton Highland Lakes. “We’re all in the same boat. There’s a power in the group dynamic. So whatever the issue is, I have support.”

The therapists will alternate the different exercises.

Speech therapists will lead attendees through a series of vocal exercises, including the music scale, and read words, sentences, and paragraphs aloud.

Mandaville said the purpose is to “maintain thinking and talking.”

“The voice is like any muscle; if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” she said.

Physical or occupational therapists will lead the group in big physical movements.

It’s especially important for Parkinson’s patients to exercise every day, Mandaville said.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes a gradual loss of muscle control. Distinctive signs of the disease are tremors, stiffness, slowed body movements, and poor balance. Exercising daily helps Parkinson’s patients maintain mobility, dexterity, and balance.

“They want something to maintain their skill level that keeps them moving and mobile,” Mandaville said. “Parkinson’s patients tend to lean forward. We want to teach people to be upright so they’re less likely to fall.”

In addition, physical exercise helps patients maintain a happy and positive attitude and fights off depression, a common occurrence among Parkinson’s patients.

In a group exercise program, Mandaville believes participants will support and motivate each other and exchange stories about what is and isn’t working for them.

“They’re supposed to do exercises every day for their voices and bodies, and it’s helpful to do it with other people,” she said. “You can talk about other issues you’re having, and it’s better to talk to other Parkinson’s patients to give feedback.”

In addition to the exercise program, the Highland Lakes Parkinson’s Support Group meets the second Wednesday of each month from 2-3 p.m. in the Seton Highland Lakes Administration Building, 309 Industrial Blvd. in Burnet.

Call (512) 715-3365 for more information about the exercise program or the support group.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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