Parkinson's Disease Stories

Toni's Story

Dec 5, 2023

“I was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s Disease.”- Toni Tessier

Toni Tessier was a nurse for 25 years at DMC Harper University Hospital. In her retirement, she knows the importance of staying active and connected so she spends two to three days a week at the community center working out.

“I started to have tremors in my left arm and made an appointment with a neurologist. He diagnosed me with early-stage Parkinson’s Disease.”

Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder causing uncontrolled movements such as shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination. Toni’s doctor didn’t put her on any medication, but she knew she had to do something to maintain her balance and self-care abilities.

“I was treated at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM) for sciatica a few years earlier, so I called my therapist and asked if I would benefit from therapy. He said absolutely and that they have a program specifically for Parkinson’s patients.”

Toni started rehab at RIM’s Sterling Heights Center which has specialty trained therapists in LSVT BIG, a proven therapeutic treatment program that teaches patients to think differently about their movements such as step length, and instead make movements they perceive as big, getting their stride and other motions closer to normal. RIM also offers LSVT LOUD, which uses a similar concept in speech to get patients to speak louder than they perceive for a more normal voice level.

“My therapy included the bike, walking, and other arm and lower body exercises. It certainly made me more aware of my movements and balance, as well as my environment giving me a better sense of how to move.”

Toni continues to exercise at her community center and incorporates some of her therapy moves into her weekly program. She says she would absolutely recommend RIM and LSVT to others and is encouraged since she’s still managing without medication.