Movement and speech therapy improves life for those living with Parkinson’s disease


Bill Thomas Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, adding to the one million people who are living with the disease in the United States.

HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital offers four specialized therapy programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In addition to inpatient rehabilitation and Parkinson Wellness Recovery, two additional programs offered for Parkinson’s disease are the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) BIG® and LSVT LOUD® programs, developed by LSVT Global, Inc, both on an outpatient basis.

Bill Thomas, of State College, recently completed both LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD programs. Although Thomas was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in May, he says that he knew for quite some time that something wasn’t right.

“I first had a feeling that something was wrong four years ago. When I would type, my fingers would inadvertently press on the letters of the keyboard,” Thomas said. “I thought that it was a problem with the keyboard, so I bought a new one. And when someone would offer me coffee, I would ask for a heavy mug because my hand was less likely to shake when I was holding it.”

HealthSouth Nittany Valley Physical Therapist Sharon Rose is a certified clinician with the LSVT BIG program. She worked with Thomas throughout his four weeks in the program.

“Bill came to us with a new diagnosis, so these programs were a good fit for him. He was able to keep up with the intensity of four days a week over four weeks, plus homework,” Rose said. “Bill had some left-sided weakness, so we worked to increase his strength and stability. We also focused on improving functional activities such as reaching for a glass in the cupboard, and buttoning his shirt.”

Even before he completed the LSVT BIG program, he saw results, with increased scores in gait, strength, balance and walking speed.

Bill Thomas

“My wife noticed that I was standing. I also have more range of motion on the left side of my neck,” Thomas said. “As a result of these programs, I’ve learned what is coming, regarding the Parkinson’s symptoms, and what I can do to slow down the progression of those symptoms.”

The HealthSouth difference
Certified clinicians at HealthSouth’s outpatient therapy clinic provide the intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy protocols designed to improve many aspects of movement and speech. LSVT BIG focuses on improved movement, while LSVT LOUD focuses on improved voice.

What is LSVT BIG for improved movement?
LSVT BIG helps Parkinson’s patients learn how to avoid inactivity and keep movements alive from day to day. It uses the principles of practice in exercise, promoting strength and motor learning. Treatment is provided in 16 sessions over a single month (four individual 60-minute sessions per week).

What is LSVT LOUD for improved speech?
LSVT LOUD improves vocal loudness by stimulating the muscles of the voice box (larynx) and speech mechanism through exercises. Focused on a single goal, “speak LOUD,” the treatment improves respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function to maximize speech intelligibility. LSVT LOUD uses loudness training to bring the voice to an improved, healthy vocal loudness with no strain. Similar to LSVT BIG, treatment is administered in 16 sessions over a single month.

For more information about LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD, visit

Becoming a Patient

Our hospital provides care for those who are ready to be discharged from a hospital but not ready to return home. Treatment and care is designed to bridge the gap between hospital and home. Anyone who is limited functionally from an injury or illness can benefit from rehabilitation.

Learn More »

See Our Hospital

Join us for a virtual tour of our hospital where you will see our patient rooms, exercise facilities, and more. You can also set up a personal tour by calling our hospital.

Learn more »