microphone at a podium in an empty hall

How therapy turned ‘can’t’ into ‘can’ for this man with Parkinson’s

After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the list of things that Wendell Magner couldn’t do on his own was growing.

Tremors in his hands and feet made it hard to write, drive and dress himself. He had trouble swallowing and speaking loud enough for his family to hear.

“Shaking is just part of it,” the 82-year-old said. “It was a completely different lifestyle than I’d lived before. It seemed like things that had come natural became manual.”

His doctor recommended medication, physical therapy and speech therapy. After several months, Wendell started to realize that he was regaining some of the skills he thought he’d lost because of Parkinson’s, a neurological disease that effects movement.

Making a believer

When Wendell’s doctor recommended LOUD Crowd, a weekly group class that involves shouting and voice exercises, Wendell wasn’t sure how that would affect his struggles.

“I thought that’s so silly. What’s that going to do?” he said. “I didn’t realize the importance of it. I didn’t realize how it would help me.”

Twice each day, Wendell sits at the kitchen table and flips through a booklet of vocal exercises. He shouts “May, Me, My, Moe, Moo” five times and yells “Ah” for 10 seconds, just as he’s practiced in LOUD Crowd classes.

“You don’t think of it, but making a racket for 10 seconds isn’t easy,” Wendell said.

The class combines cognitive and speech therapy to combat the degenerative effects of Parkinson’s.

Since beginning treatment, Wendell’s doctors say his swallowing has improved by 80 percent, while his family says they notice a big difference in the volume and clarity in his voice. He was even able to start driving again and passed his renewal exam without any problem.

“I made a believer out of myself,” Wendell said.

See your progress

For Wendell, regaining the ability to care for himself and remain independent was an unexpected, but an invaluable gift after beginning therapy. Along with the regular evaluations his medical team conducts, Wendell has his own way of tracking his progress.

“Survey your condition now and check each month. Make a list of what you can do or can’t do, and see if your lists get smaller or get bigger, and then you can tell if it’s doing any good,” he said.

Learn more about LOUD Crowd and other neurological therapy services available through OSF Rehabilitation here.

About Author: Laura Nightengale

Laura Nightengale is a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. 

When she’s not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.

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Categories: Brain & Spine, Patient Stories, Physical Therapy