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VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System


Parkinson's Patients Benefit from Movement Therapy

Veterans take part in the

Veterans participating in the "Movement Disorder Class" at the Toledo CBOC gain independence and friendships during weekly therapy sessions.

By Jean Revoir, Kristopher Baker, Donna & Ron Boehme, Paul Calhoon, David Norwalk, and Freeman Whitt
Monday, November 21, 2016

In the words of Jerry Lee Louis, there's a "whole lotta shakin' goin on" at the Toledo VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

In November 2013, the Toledo VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) Physical Therapy Department was awarded a grant from the VA Office of Veteran Centered Care to implement a “Delay the Disease” class for the Veterans with Parkinson’s disease. A promising study has demonstrated that an amplitude-based exercise program, which involves big, intense movements, can delay the progression of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve neuroplasticity. We have expanded the program to include all movement disorders.  The class has changed the name to reflect this to “Movement Disorder Class”.  The class is an active, hands-on exercise program where the reasons/results for the particular exercises are explained, demonstrated and reinforced.  Veterans wear casual, loose fitting clothing and actively participate in the group activity and adjustments are made for those in wheelchairs or who have other significant restrictions.  Individuals are encouraged to work at their own pace with assistance as needed. As activity increases, so do smiles, conversation with each other, laughter and the feeling of camaraderie ensues.  Conversations regarding medication, home activity, and shared experience with neurological disease contribute to the inclusive feeling of belonging and that they are not alone.  Continuing with the exercises practiced at home is encouraged. Attendance has increased as have the abilities of those who participate due to the support and acceptance of this important positive program.

The Veterans are not only helping each other but also other Veterans. The group decided to have shirts made with the logo “There’s a whole lot of shaking going on” and to participate in the sixth annual VA2K Walk & Roll that encourages people to get active and also benefits homeless Veterans through voluntary donations of food and clothing items. They also participated in the talent show at the VA2K event held at the Toledo VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic and danced the “Macarena.”

If you would like to learn more about the Movement Disorder Class offered at the Toledo VA CBOC, contact Jean Revoir at (419) 213-7512 or email her at:


The VA Parkinson’s class is an encouragement for one to exercise on his/her own.  After taking Physical therapy when I was first diagnoses with Parkinson’s about 5 years ago, once my physical therapy was over, I got busy and failed to exercise.  Having a class once a week encourages me to try and exercise the rest of the week. My wife says I am walking better. I have gone from 210 lbs. to 185 lbs. When I first started I could not do a push up; recently I did 3 push-ups.   - Paul E. Calhoon

For approximately the last six months, I have been participating in the “Delay the Disease" Parkinson’s program at the Toledo Outpatient Veterans Center. The program consists of exercises done repetitively in wide circular movements, so as to keep the muscles engaged and not rigid and stiffened up… which are hallmarks of this debilitating disease.  We sing, we perform coordination exercises with our fingers, and we even march in place-among many other exercises- to literally Delay the Disease from attacking the various muscles of the human body from the very first session the past winter, the “Movement Disorder” program has made a huge difference in my life, as it’s helped give me hope in body, mind, heart and soul.  It’s a highlight of my every week, and helps show me that I’m not alone in this uphill battle.  I’d recommend it to anyone suffering from this cruel Disease. - David Norwalk

When I first started with Jean’s therapy I hardly could walk, I used a cane, had problems talking, walking, and sometimes falling. Now after 2 years I have not fallen.  I do not use a cane.  I talk better.  If it was for the VA clinic outpatient facility I could not be as good as I am.  Thank you for the good work you all did for me. The therapy has done great.  Thanks. - Freeman D. Whitt


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