Parkinson’s Rehabilitative Therapies

The Parkinson’s disease program at Emerson Hospital facilitates access to our Clough Family Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies. Our skilled therapists provide specialized treatment programs to help improve everyday movement and speech issues associated with Parkinson’s.

Physical Therapy

For patients experiencing changes in their daily routines as a result of tremors, balance changes and a reduction in strength, physical therapy and exercise can help improve their quality of life. Extensive research has shown that patients should not wait until they experience a loss of function to begin exercise. In fact, the earlier the better! Our therapists are trained and approach therapy using the research-based Lee Silverman’s Voice Treatment (LSVT) program.


LSVT BIG is a physical therapy approach that addresses the movement disorder aspects of Parkinson’s disease, helping to enhance a patient’s ability to move and perform certain tasks. Therapists teach participants to use quick and explosive movements to overcome the bradykinesia (slow movements) associated with Parkinson’s.

Our LSVT BIG sessions use whole body movements, repetitions and progressions from simple to complex to “recalibrate” the brain and empower patients to use cueing strategies for better movements. This teaches patients how to avoid inactivity, enhance movement during everyday activities, and improve quality of life.

Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery

Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR) is a comprehensive neuroplasticity program that combines vigorous aerobic exercise and Parkinson’s disease-specific skills through whole body movements to optimize wellness recovery. It focuses on improving the quality of each movement while promoting the ability to physically and cognitively achieve more.

Pelvic Health

The pelvic floor is a part of human anatomy that few individuals think about until they experience problems with pain or loss of bladder or bowel control. A number of factors may weaken pelvic floor muscles, which can cause urinary or fecal incontinence, persistent low-back pain, or pelvic pain. Parkinson’s patients with these issues can be evaluated by our certified pelvic health specialists.

Speech Therapy

For patients experiencing speech impairments and swallowing difficulties related to Parkinson’s, we offer a variety of specialized programs. As with our physical therapy program, our speech therapists are trained and approach therapy using the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) in their therapy sessions.


The LSVT Loud therapy sessions aim is to “recalibrate” the brain to train a new accepted level of vocal effort and loudness when speaking. This approach has an effect on all other aspects of communication, including dysarthria, hypernasality, dysfluency, breath support, and more.


The Speak Out! program typically consists of eight to twelve speech therapy sessions in conjunction with daily home practice of speech, voice and cognitive exercises using a specialized workbook that Parkinson Voice Project provides. We emphasize speaking with intent to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. Upon graduation from SPEAK OUT! patients may be invited to transition to the LOUD Crowd.

LOUD Crowd

The LOUD Crowd is a group that meets weekly in a virtual format and provides a forum for patients to practice and maintain the skills acquired in individualized therapy. LOUD Crowd is partially funded by a grant from the Massachusetts chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association.


For patients experiencing difficulty swallowing, prolonged chewing, reduced rotatory chewing, difficulty with mixed consistencies, harder or dryer solids, and taking medications, we offer an evaluation and a follow-up treatment plan. The evaluation typically starts with a modified barium swallow (MBS) — a video x-ray of the swallow. Patients return to our office about a week later to review findings, recommendations, and education on a home exercise program when necessary.

Occupational Therapy

Our occupational therapist work with patients who are experiencing difficulties or decline in activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), work and leisure activities due to decreased coordination, strength or visual deficits. The primary objective of occupational therapy bis to enable patients to participate in the activities of everyday life by working with them to improve their ability to engage in tasks they want to, need to, or are expected to do. In many cases, this may require modifying an occupation (task), the environment to better support occupational engagement, or use of adaptive equipment.

Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!)

PWR! moves are performed with large amplitude, high effort, and attention to action in multiple postures. They specifically target four skills (antigravity extension, weight shifting, axial mobility, and transitional movements) that interfere with independence in mobility, transfers, stair climbing, ADLs, IADLs, work and leisure in people with Parkinson’s.

Driving Evaluation Program

Keys to Independence is an evidence-based driver assessment program created through a partnership between our occupational therapy department and the Central Massachusetts Safety Council, Inc. to offer area residents with a comprehensive driver assessment and driver rehabilitation services close to home. An Emerson Hospital occupational therapist provides a two-hour clinical assessment of someone’s “fitness to drive”, which includes a combination of screenings and standardized assessments with research-based evidence for visual, physical, and cognitive fitness to drive.

When appropriate, this test is followed on a later date by an on-road assessment with the therapist, who is a professional driving instructor in an instructional vehicle. This is a fee-for-service program and is not covered by medical insurance. Please call 978-287-8244 to initiate an assessment.