John’s Story

Physical Therapy Helps Parkinson’s Patient with Stiffness, Balance and Movement

John Miller Jr.When John Miller Jr. was diagnosed with vascular Parkinson's disease a few years ago, he started noticing stiffness in his neck and back, as well as changes in his balance and walking. John also had difficulty getting in and out of cars and his bed, and he had experienced a fall. Because of these symptoms, John was referred to outpatient physical therapy at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center in Westlake.

John's goal for physical therapy was to improve his posture and reduce his overall stiffness. His therapy at UH St. John Medical Center primarily focused on improving his walking, posture, balance and range of motion in his neck. John also worked with a therapist specializing in LSVT BIG therapy, a treatment program designed for Parkinson’s disease patients. This program has specific daily exercises that are performed emphasizing "big" movement patterns and are completed using higher repetitions and intensity, which research has shown encourages neuroplasticity, or changes in the brain. John’s physical therapy treatments worked on increasing his functional abilities, such as getting in and out of bed, the car and chairs.

John’s wife, Betty, said that by the time his therapy sessions were complete, he no longer had daily neck stiffness. In addition, John was able to get in and out of bed and cars without difficulty, the range of motion in his neck increased, and the quality of his walking improved. John is also able to stand and sit straighter and is overall less rigid than before his therapy sessions began.

In a letter, the Millers expressed gratitude for the rehabilitation staff at UH St. John Medical Center, in particular therapists Stephanie Stefano and Michele Hippler Brandt, for their kind attention and care.

“At the first session, we knew that we were in the right place,” Betty wrote. “John looked forward to coming, as did I.”

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