Charles Clark with Mark Kochanski, physical therapist, left, and Kathryn Cain, speech therapist, right

Parkinson’s disease takes a toll on a person, especially when it comes to two basic activities – walking and talking.


Such was the case for Dr. Charles Clark, a retired dentist who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago.


When the disease progressed to the point where Clark was having difficulty speaking loudly enough and had a lack of balance, he started outpatient rehabilitation at Life Care Center of Collegedale, Tennessee, on Jan. 15, 2018.


The facility offers specialty therapy approaches for Parkinson’s disease patients, including the LSVT BIG® and LSVT LOUD® programs. Physical therapists used LSVT BIG to teach Clark how to use bigger motions with his arms and legs to overcome the stiffening effects of Parkinson’s, while speech therapists used LSVT LOUD to teach him to use a louder voice and volume to compensate for the softness of speech common with the disease.


Other training included practicing gait in the facility’s balance park, which gave Clark experience walking on artificial turf, gravel and stairs. Therapists also used a sound level meter to help measure Clark’s volume as he progressed in his therapy.


“Dr. Clark was very consistent with doing his daily homework,” said Katie Cain, speech pathologist. “He often asked for extra practice trials in order to perform the exercises correctly.”


“My friends say I’m walking better, and my wife says I’m talking louder,” said Clark. “This has been very motivating. [Therapy] has increased my self-confidence when I go out to eat, to church, etc.”


On Feb. 15, one month after he began his rehab, Clark completed his therapy program. He has a good voice and volume during conversation and can now walk with a smoother gait and manage stepping up on curbs. He is active in a local Parkinson’s support group.