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Parkinson's therapy via exercise -- and the wait for a miracle

January 20, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
  • Sister Marie Simon-Pierre stands next to a portrait of the late Pope John Paul II, who, she says, cured her of Parkinson's disease.
Sister Marie Simon-Pierre stands next to a portrait of the late Pope John… (Claude Paris / Associated…)

Parkinson's disease is most often associated with the uncontrolled tremors seen in patients when they try to walk or eat. There's no cure, but some patients say a new exercise therapy has improved their agility.

This South Florida Sun Sentinel story explains the routine:

"The treatment emphasizes big, repetitive motions and operatic voice exercises to help patients speak louder, correct their posture and walk with agility instead of taking baby steps.

" 'I look much different from last year,' said Rabbi Merle Singer, 71, retired from Temple Beth El of Boca Raton. 'I was a prisoner of the disease. Against my will, it was taking over my life.' "

Read more about LSVT, or Lee Silverman voice treatment, in the full story.

Such a therapy highlights the no-cure status of Parkinson's treatment, with medications often used simply to ease symptoms. Some things help, including nondrug approaches, but not always.

Among the more cutting-edge treatments is deep brain stimulation for certain patients. Here's what the National Institutes of Health says about the latest treatments and research.

For many patients, the therapy options are simply too limited. And that explains, in part, columnist Michael Kinsley's frustration with a saint-to-be. He writes of the late Pope John Paul II's apparent cure of one Parkinson's patient -- and the former pontiff's refusal to support stem cell research, which might ultimately cure many. Here's the full story.

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