To better help residents dealing with Parkinson’s disease, Masonic Village at Elizabethtown’s Outpatient Rehabilitation department has incorporated some new big and loud programming and technology into their treatment approach.

“Big” and “Loud” Programs

The “Big” and “Loud” programs from neurological therapy development organization and training provider LVST Global use speech, physical and occupational therapy to “recalibrate” participants’ movement and speech patterns when affected by Parkinson’s. People think of Parkinson’s as primarily affecting movement, but their speech and vocal capability are also impacted. According to Lauren Rebuck, a speech and language pathologist with Masonic Village, 89% of people with Parkinson’s have some kind of voice disorder.

These programs are perfect fits for the Outpatient Rehabilitation team, a group of clinicians already used to collaborating on patient care.

“Many people with Parkinson’s need not just physical therapy but occupational and speech therapy,” physical therapist Michelle Hinkle said. “An interdisciplinary team is very important for treating the whole person. We’re looking at patients’ quality of life and enjoying their time here.”

Participants in the “Big” and “Loud” programs have four one-hour sessions a week, plus homework, for a month. Masonic Village Rehabilitation has two patients who have already started with the program.

“As therapists, the changes we have seen in them in a short period of time are very exciting for us,” Michelle said.

Neurologic Music Therapy

Another new treatment approach comes from Masonic Village at Elizabethtown’s Music Therapy department. Music therapist Liz Eargle recently completed training in Neurologic Music Therapy. This kind of music therapy uses an external auditory cue – music – to prime the brain. Twenty-one different techniques target different areas. Not just for Parkinson’s patients, neurologic music therapy can be part of neurological rehabilitation. This extends its use beyond Masonic Village Rehabilitation.

Biodex Treadmill and Gait Trainer

On the technology end, Outpatient Rehabilitation added a Biodex treadmill and gait trainer to their lineup of therapy machines available for residents. Those with Parkinson’s, back pain or spinal cord injuries and amputees will all benefit from this piece of equipment and its “unweighting” system. Masonic Village residents Mark and Judy Townsend contributed financially to supply Outpatient Rehabilitation with some of their previous machines, like the SMARTfit Mini; the Biodex treadmill/gait trainer was a result of their giving as well.

Masonic Village at Elizabethtown residents Mark and Judy Townsend with the SMARTfit Mini

Mark and Judy with the SMARTfit Mini in 2019

“As a department, we want to expand as much as we can to see what we can offer. We would not be where we are today without Mark and Judy,” Michael Dilley, director of therapy services, said.

Masonic Village is the only facility in Lancaster County with some of this specialized equipment. As more residents go through the programs, the team will inform and educate area physicians on these therapies.

“Making sure physicians are aware is a big component of what we’re doing. They have to buy into it. It’s one thing to say we have a program and success stories; it’s another thing to say ‘Look what we did with this specific person,’” Michael said.