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Patient Testimonies


Sylvia Huete, 77Sylvia's Story

Sylvia Huete, 77, has been a New Orleans native for most of her life – she is a retired attorney and professor at Dillard University, mother, artist and world traveler; and has been living with Parkinson’s disease since 2006. 

In her retirement, Sylvia’s passions are painting and traveling. She loves to experience new places and express herself through art. As a person living with Parkinson’s disease, these passions are now challenging for Sylvia, but she is determined to do everything she can to slow the progression of her disease and work hard to maintain daily activities that she enjoys. Exercise plays a large part in maintaining these abilities and the latest LSVT Big™ therapy at Touro is already making a difference for Sylvia in her physical stability and in performing daily activities such as getting in and out of the car and getting dressed. 

“Out, turn…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and finish BIG.” These words are repeated with liveliness by Touro rehab patient Sylvia Huete as she practices one of her LSVT Big™ exercises during a Friday morning therapy session. She stands, spreads her arms out as wide as she can and pivots, holding for a count of 10 and repeats This is one of the many exercises designed to strengthen her muscles and improve balance in her arms and legs in her one hour therapy session and home exercise session.

In addition to the strengthening exercises, the LSVT Big™ program helps patients identify functional goals and develop exercises and practices to improve or meet those goals. What seem likeordinary, unnoticed tasks for most individuals are important keys to independence for a person with Parkinson’s disease. Sylvia’s LSVT Big™ goals include dressing herself and improving the time it takes her to get dressed, pulling her keys out of her pocket and getting in and out of the car. 

“LSVT Big™ allows patients to identify important tasks in their daily life, and we work them into components to practice in therapy,” said Touro LSVT™-certified Occupational Therapist Francine Bienvenu. “Sylvia has already improved the time it takes her to get dressed by improving the way she puts her pants on by rotating her body. She also has learned that pants with a zipper are easier for her because they open wider.”

Sylvia and her therapists practice getting in an out of the car with an exercise that includes pushing open the car door, learning forward, stepping up and then stepping out away from the car in two movements that allow her to slam the door shut in a final, BIG movement. 

“For every movement I am working on, I already feel it is paying off,” said Sylvia. “That’s why I’m putting all of my effort in.” 

After just two week of LSVT Big™ physical and occupational therapy, Sylvia improved her posture so much that she had to extend the length of her cane. This is something her therapist Francine referred to as an “Ah-ha” moment. 

LSVT Big™ is not a small undertaking. In addition to one hour of therapy four times per week during the month-long program, patients practice exercises and homework for an additional hour per day. On days patients do not come to therapy, they practice for two one-hour sessions at home. And the exercises do not stop at the end of the month-long program. LSVT™ teaches patients exercises to practice for life. It’s a use it or loose it philosophy. Maintaining strength and skill takes a commitment to practice daily and a strong self-determination. 


Brother John's Story


I enrolled at the LSVT BIG program at Touro Infirmary at the suggestion of my general practitioner, my neurologist and people I knew who had Parkinson’s. I was diagnosed with early on-set PD eight years ago; I knew exercise was important but did not know what would help. From the day I walked in I was impressed by the professionalism that accompanied the personal care that marked my time in the program. The therapists who worked with me actually listened to me, worked with my situation, and patiently encouraged and taught me what I could do to increase mobility and stamina. It worked! I believe the attention during my sessions and follow-up between the sessions by the two therapists demonstrated both skill and caring in equal measure. It has been a great help to me.

- Br. John W. Casey, New Orleans


Joseph's Story

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease fifteen years ago. I had Deep Brain Stimulation surgery in June 2010.  I have been able to perform activities of daily living independently but continued to have problems with balance and difficulty with speech. I sounded like I was talking with a mouth full of marbles.  My doctor referred me to Touro’s LSVT program. After completing the program I went from needing a wheelchair to independent walking.  My speech has become louder and more easily understood.  I learned a lot from the staff-they were professional, supportive and encouraging.

- Joseph Zeno, New Orleans

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Touro Infirmary, 1401 Foucher Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
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