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Roll With It – Melissa White

Posted on August 6, 2021

Therapy Center-Sevierville Aids Seymour Woman with Parkinson’s Disease

Melissa WhiteMelissa White is a wife, mother and business owner. She leads tutorials on social media for crafts and home décor projects. One day during a live demonstration, she expe­rienced an unusual sensation in her right hand, causing her to drop what she was holding. She later found out it was a tremor caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Her balance had begun to decline and she had trouble walking long distances. After her diagnosis, White was referred by her neurologist to Covenant Health Therapy Center – Sevier­ville where she participated in a program specifically for people with Parkinson’s.

“At first, I felt fear,” she says. “It took a while to sink in. I thought, what would the rest of my life look like? I only just started taking medication a few months ago to help with the tremors.”

“BIG and LOUD” help those with Parkinson’s

Progressive neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s impair speech, swallowing, limb function, walking, balance, and activities of daily living. For White, the disease has shown its progress through tremors.

At Covenant Health Therapy Center – Sevierville, there are three certified therapists who work with programs called LSTV BIG and LSTV LOUD. Many people with Parkinson’s have issues with their percep­tion of movement. They perceive their movements are normal when they are actually small, which is why they practice being “big.”

Upon arriving at the therapy center, White underwent evalu­ations for posture, balance and gait abnormalities. Sara Albert, PT, helped White throughout the four-week BIG and LOUD programs and helped her prac­tice daily exercises designed to increase White’s amplitude of movement and fine motor skills.

“We did exercises to improve balance and walking ‘big.’ It feels foreign and unnatural at first, because the disease sort of rewires your brain; that is why you do the exercises like big steps and swing your arms,” she says.

Albert reports, “Melissa met or exceeded all of the goals we had set for her, including improving her arm swing and speed when walking, improving balance, climbing stairs, opening containers, transferring from sit­ting to standing, and getting in and out of the car.”

Excellent Care Close to Home

The hardworking mom was glad to have somewhere to go that was convenient and close to home. White describes her experience at the Therapy Center as fun and enjoyable, and some­thing she looked forward to. “They were open and listened to what I needed help with. I didn’t feel like just another number. They truly cared about what they were doing, and they cared about my progress. That spoke volumes to me.”

White feels blessed because her disease has only affected her body, not her mindset. “The BIG program teaches things you can do, like flicking your hand 10 times to slow the tremor. They give you the tools to put in your tool box.”

White decides every day to have a mindset of gratitude. “I feel very blessed to still be able to do my daily activities and spend time with my husband and son. I do feel like the BIG program helped a lot, and when I think back on the progress I have made, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come.”

About Covenant Health Therapy Centers

The dedicated staff at Covenant Health Therapy Center – Sevierville at LeConte Medical Center want to help patients reach their goals, whether physical achievements like walking or running, or recovering from a neurological event and working on speech and balance.

The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT™) program for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease focuses on speech (LSVT LOUD) and movement (LSVT BIG). Participants come to the center and work with certified physical, speech and occupational therapists on a specialized plan for their specific needs.

Covenant Health Therapy Centers accept most insurance and managed care plans. For questions or information about the clinic nearest you call (865) 541-4500 or visit CovenantHealth.com/therapy-centers.