April Is Parkinson's Awareness Month; Do You Know The Symptoms?

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April Is Parkinson's Awareness Month; Do You Know The Symptoms?

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month and we at Arbor Therapy are wondering if you would recognize the symptoms of this disease in yourself or loved ones. We have included some of the most common symptoms below:

The primary symptoms of Parkinson's disease are all related to voluntary and involuntary motor function and usually start on one side of the body. Symptoms are mild at first and will progress over time. Some individuals are more affected than others are. Studies have shown that by the time that primary symptoms appear, individuals with Parkinson's disease will have lost 60% to 80% or more of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Characteristic motor symptoms include the following:

* Tremors: Trembling in fingers, hands, arms, feet, legs, jaw, or head. Tremors most often occur while the individual is resting, but not while involved in a task. Tremors may worsen when an individual is excited, tired, or stressed.

* Rigidity: Stiffness of the limbs and trunk, which may increase during movement. Rigidity may produce muscle aches and pain. Loss of fine hand movements can lead to cramped handwriting (micrographia) and may make eating difficult.

* Bradykinesia: Slowness of voluntary movement. Over time, it may become difficult to initiate movement and to complete movement.

* Bradykinesia together with stiffness can also affect the facial muscles and result in an expressionless, "mask-like" appearance.

* Postural instability: Impaired or lost reflexes can make it difficult to adjust posture to maintain balance. Postural instability may lead to falls.

* Parkinsonian gait: Individuals with more progressive Parkinson's disease develop a distinctive shuffling walk with a stooped position and a diminished or absent arm swing. It may become difficult to start walking and to make turns. Individuals may freeze in mid-stride and appear to fall forward while walking.

* Dysarthria (difficulty speaking): Have "slurred" or "mumbled" speech that can be hard to understand. Some common characteristics, speaking softly, either slowly or very fast, reduced movement of the tongue, lips, and jaw. You may notice a robotic or choppy voice quality and can be hoarse or breathy.

* Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing): this can happen at any stage of Parkinson disease. Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include: difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids, coughing or throat clearing during or after eating/drinking and feeling as if food is getting stuck. As the disease progresses, swallowing can become severely compromised and food/liquid can get into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is the leading cause of death in PD.

The domain-general mechanism of timing is a “jack of all trades” mechanism that manifests itself in fine motor control, sleep cycles, speech patterns, ability to attend over time and overall efficacy of brain communication. This timing in the brain, or temporal processing, has been shown to be deficient in several common conditions, including Parkinson’s. Interactive Metronome (IM) is the only training program that improves timing in the brain in an organized, systematic, flexible and engaging format. Arbor Therapy is proud to be a Certified Interactive Metronome Provider

Once there is a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, Arbor Therapy’s team of experienced therapists can provide a variety of skilled services to address all the client’s needs. Occupational therapy is used to help people with Parkinson's Disease to continue with their daily tasks as the disease progresses. Occupational therapists can help evaluate and plan these activities that are crucial to the well-being and independence of people with Parkinson's Disease. Physical Therapy can also improve strength and flexibility and decrease pain and stiffness for those who have Parkinson's Disease. Speech Therapy will assist people improve their speech and language skills, voice quality and swallowing ability. The SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) will also help determine the least restrictive diet consistency with the least risk of aspiration with both solids and liquids.

Contact us at (480) 935-0614 to schedule your appointment today!

New Year's 'Love'


New Year's 'Love'

Let me first begin by saying Happy New Year to all, let's make 2018 shine! It's time to reflect on this passing year and write down ways that we can reach for the stars. Each year I create a vision board filled with all things I would like to accomplish including both long and short-term goals. Every person has unique desired targets that will better their future whether it's reaching that goal weight, working hard to get that raise, or being able to say "I love you" to someone special in their life. 

The words, "I love you" have more meaning to me now as ever before. As a parent, one of the best things to hear from my son is, "I love you mommy"; best feeling in the world! Since working in this field, I happen to be lucky enough to work with an amazing teenager who is nonverbal but very determined to reach his goal to communicate.  

When I began working with this joyful teen, I spoke with his parents and asked if they would be open to using ASL (American Sign Language) with their child. They agreed and stated that it was worth a try. All they really wanted was to be able to communicate with their son. As soon as I got the O.K. I created sign language worksheets and introduced them to about 5 signs every other week that could be used to express his wants and needs. He did very well and was able to catch on to these signs (especially his favorites) fairly quickly and his parents were overjoyed. 

While we continued working together, I was determined to finally give him the tools to be able to express the three words that every parent waits for their child to tell them! When I introduced these signs to him, he lit up with such excitement and just knew how he was going to use them. Within two weeks, both his mother and father approached me with tears in their eyes and told me that one night before going to sleep, their son walked into their room and for the very first time told them, 'I love you'. Moments like these, are a key example of why I love what I do at Arbor Therapy!  

So, this year remember to create goals, stay determined and shoot for the stars! Have a happy and healthy New Year's from all of us at Arbor Therapy; the sky is the limit! 

Self-Reflection and the Lessons Learned During 2017


Self-Reflection and the Lessons Learned During 2017

The New Year’s holiday is a time many use for self-reflection. They look back at the previous year and try to draw conclusions or lessons they can learn and apply to the next year. It’s done in hopes of bettering the year for themselves and those they care about, but also as a way to improve the world as a whole. 

I recently took a look back at 2017 and thought to myself: How could I have done things a bit differently? Could I have worked a little harder toward achieving my goals? For the most part, I think looking back helps me focus my attention and effort on the future—what I want to accomplish in the next twelve months. 

When I look back at 2017, I think about a special person that I had the privilege of working with at the clinic. She was such an amazing woman. I had originally worked with her two years ago after she underwent a knee replacement. At that time, she’d been discouraged—the pain and anxiety of the unknown weighted heavy on her soul. She was in her early eighties, frail, and admitted to never being one to enjoy exercise. Needless to say, she struggled in the beginning and stayed at the facility for three weeks. 

In that time, we worked hard together. She had specific goals she needed to achieve to return home and I helped her accomplish those goals. Working through the pain, she eventually saw the light at the end of the tunnel. When she left the facility, she told me she’d have to have her other knee replaced and hoped to work with me again. 

Fast-forward three years. She came back to our facility after having her other knee replaced. When I walked into the therapy gym that morning, she was sitting there waiting for me to arrive. Despite her pain, she had a huge smile on her face. First thing she told me was how happy she was to see me. The second thing she said was how she applied the therapeutic interventions she’d learned from me at the clinic and was able to push the knee replacement surgery off for the three years. She even remembered the exercise routine we’d used during her first stay and she couldn’t wait to get started. 

When it was all said and done, her rehab stay was two weeks rather than three, and she walked out of there using a cane rather than a walker.  

It was great to see my patient had looked back at her past experiences and applied what she’d learned to her life. It helped her move forward in a positive direction toward better times to come. With the New Year approaching, let us all learn from our past and create a positive future.  

Know that at Arbor Therapy, we will be happy to aid you in achieving your goals for 2018, no matter what they may be. 

I would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year! 


Welcome to 2018


Welcome to 2018

“I want to lose weight.”  

“This year I’ll pay off my car.”  

“2018 is my year to get into shape for my wedding. . .graduation photos. . .vacation to Hawaii.”  

New Year’s Resolutions. They’re something most of us make, but few of us stick too. For decades, gyms across the nation report a spike in membership and attendance, but just as consistently, report that it only lasts a few months.  

The purpose behind these resolutions is to push us toward a better future. But, a better future often means more than just our own future. How about those around us in the community? Could one of our resolutions be to help others? Volunteer at a charity? Donate our time and energy at an animal shelter? There are so many in our area that are in need. 

As an Occupational Therapist, I have had the opportunity to help people. Many of those that I’ve helped over the years had nowhere else to turn and no one else to rely on. They were down on their luck, or made a poor decision, or even lost everything through no fault of their own. Whatever the reason, I had the opportunity to help them turn their life around and regain their independence. 

There’s something truly profound about helping someone walk, stand, get dressed, and use the bathroom for the first time in years. To help someone grow strong, regain balance, and improve endurance so they can once again rely on themselves has been a blessing I have trouble putting into words. 

One really great thing about 2018 is that it’s a great place to start over, regain your spirit, and make plans for the future. Reflecting back on this past year, I’ve learned from my mistakes as well as from my successes. The point here is to renew our spirit so that our energy will always remain positive and moving forward toward better things. It might take some time, effort and planning, but it’s more than just a wishful thought or resolution that disappears in a few months.  

For me, it’s about surrounding myself with great people and seeking out great opportunities to help others. That’s how I found Arbor Therapy. 

Arbor Therapy has given me the opportunity to touch the lives of even more people within my community. It’s a fact of life that every day someone has an accident, gets sick, suffers a stroke, or is born with a disability. While there may not be anything we can do to prevent unfortunate things from happening, there are places people can go to get better. With staff that are highly skilled and eager to help, Arbor Therapy is one of those places.  

May 2018 be filled with positive life experiences for all who read this blog. I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy new year and look forward to meeting anyone that needs our help. 

A New Year and New Beginnings


A New Year and New Beginnings

It’s been a tradition to make New Year’s resolutions since the dawn of recorded history. The purpose was to earn favor with the gods so the individual could prosper during the upcoming year. Over the course of millennia, people have hoped that with each new year, there would be new opportunities to prosper. Things haven’t changed that much. Even now, we all want to have a prosperous, happy, and healthy new year.  

Easier said than done? Probably, but it is possible. With hard work and dedication to what you want to achieve, anything can be achieved. 

I recently had a discussion with a one-hundred-year-old patient that had fallen and broken her hip. I asked her what she wanted for the next year. Did she have something specific she wanted to do? She laughed and grabbed my hand. With tears in her eyes she smiled and said that she wanted to learn to swim. She went on to explain how her mother had a fear of water and never allowed her to learn. Her answer caught me off guard. I would never have expected that to be what she wanted most out of the next year.  

She went on to explain how once she became an adult, she’d never found the time to learn to swim. She’d been too busy and wrapped up in her husband, children, and career that there’d never been the right opportunity. Her desire to learn to swim had turned into that one New Year’s Resolution that she’d always made, but never achieved.  

It just so happened that there was a pool at the facility where she was staying to receive rehab. After a few phone calls, and a discussion with her family and doctor, plans were made for her to enter into the pool. When the day came where she was strong enough and healed enough to get into the water, I made sure I came in on my day off to witness the therapy session.  

As the mechanical-lift lowered her into the water, her face lit up with the joy of knowing that after nearly one hundred years, she was going to finally learn to swim. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. 

The lesson I learned from this courageous and strong woman was that it’s never too late to achieve your goals. It’s never too late to make New Year’s resolutions and have new beginnings.  

At Arbor Therapy, we understand this, and we’re here to help. If there is an occupational, speech, or physical therapy need that we can address, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would like to wish everyone in the community a Happy Holidays. May your new year be filled with new beginnings.  

Be Grateful for the Little Things!

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Be Grateful for The Little Things! 

It is finally the holiday season again. It’s where time slows down just enough so we can cherish one another's company! What comes to mind when you think about this time of year? When I think of the holidays my thoughts include family gatherings, delicious food, endless desserts as well as for everything that I am truly grateful for. Throughout the year, we sometimes lose sight of all the good we have, and take advantage of things that come naturally to us—the things produced with little effort.  

As a Speech and Language professional, I am fortunate to be able to look back on the efforts made by all the individuals I work with, and see how far they have progressed from where they started. It is time to celebrate all the advances made, no matter how big or small, because each one is so powerful. Every year, I create a vision board of the things I would like to accomplish, some more easily obtainable than others, but many are short-term goals that build up to great larger achievements. To reach our BIG goals, we first must accomplish smaller milestones that will then lead us in the desired direction.  

Many of us rely on our voice, each and every day, when interacting with others. We use this voice to communicate our needs, wants, and desires effectively. For most of us, we speak without thinking about how our body makes it happen. I want you to try something before continuing to read! Create the sound [k]... finished? How easy was that? Did you think about what the muscles in your throat and tongue needed to do to accomplish this? Or, did it happen automatically—without much effort? The sound [k] can be considered as a ‘stop, voiceless velar sound’. This single sound is created without moving the vocal folds. The back of the tongue is pushed up against the soft palate with air built-up behind it. Then, the air is released to fully complete the sound. Well, that’s a mouth-full, isn’t it? So many different components went into making one sound that we use for many important words in the English language.  

Every day we produce a variety of sounds, words, sentences and even hold entire conversations. There is so much that goes into this that we typically don’t think about. When you are talking to a friend, do you think about where your tongue needs to be placed? What lip shape needs to be made? Or, how much air pressure is needed for each sound, word, and phrase? For some, producing a single sound correctly is a challenge. But, with a lot of hard work and professional guidance, the effort pays off. Oh, what sweet victory!  

It's these seemingly small skills that we acquire and utilize on a daily basis, that we should be so thankful for, each and every day.  

This year, when you sit down for your holiday meal and share thoughts and memories with your family, be grateful that you can; whether it's verbal, the use of sign language or other methods of communication! Happy Holidays from all of us at Arbor Therapy! We strive to make a difference in each and every life we encounter.  

Being Thankful this Holiday Season


Being Thankful this Holiday Season

There’s a lot to be thankful for this holiday season—family, friends, and our health to name a few. Reflecting back on the past year, I have come to realize how much I really have in my life to be thankful for, and why Physical Therapy has been such a big part of it all.  

When I was seventeen years of age, my grandmother was out in her garden tending to the many plants she grew. Even in her advanced age, the woman never slowed down because of aches and pains. We never even thought about her being at risk of falling—she seemed so sure-footed and agile for her age. That all changed one hot summer day. 

I’ll never forget going outside and seeing her lying on her back amongst the vegetables and rose bushes. At first, I thought she might have passed out from the summer heat. I rushed over to help her sit up, but soon realized she’d been injured—having tripped over one of the many avocado tree roots in the yard. The ambulance took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a broken hip, which we learned was quite common among women her age.  

It wasn’t until she was discharged from the hospital that we realized the real work had just begun. She was medically stable, no longer in danger of going into shock or death but she couldn’t walk. The pain in her hip was still uncontrolled and she looked so incredibly sad—unable to hop up and make a meal, tend to her garden, or even feed her beloved miniature poodle. Two days later, my father and I took her to the first of many physical therapy appointments, and it changed my world forever.  

As I watched the therapist help my grandmother stand, I was in awe. The way he placed his hand on her leg to help stabilize it, so she could take her first steps while using a walker—I’ll never forget that feeling. I don’t know who cried more that day, me, my dad, or my grandmother. All I know is, she got better. Soon, she was able to walk around without any help from us. Eventually, she stopped using the walker and cane all together, much to the surprise of the entire family.  

From that very first physical therapy appointment I attended, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I started looking into therapy schools and made sure I qualified to attend them—graduating years later with a degree allowing me to do for your grandmother, what that therapist had done for mine.  

I am truly grateful for my career in physical therapy which allows me to help others when they need it the most. I am also grateful to have a clinic like Arbor Therapy to call home. An innovative and progressive company filled with happy clinicians and clients is a place where you and your family can find the help you need.  

From our family to yours, we at Arbor Therapy would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. 

What Has Occupational Therapy Meant to Me?


What Has Occupational Therapy Meant to Me? 

As the holiday season gets into full swing, we as a society tend to do a lot of self-reflection. We often share with friends and family what we are thankful for and how our lives have changed over the course of the year. Many of us go as far as making New Year’s Resolutions which are basically ways we’d like to improve ourselves during the upcoming year. 

As an Occupational Therapist, I have seen people during some of the worst times of their lives. Many of my patients have suffered from debilitating illnesses, surgeries, accidents, and other life-changing events that have left them feeling vulnerable and scared. Over the course of their treatments I have aided in their recovery—teaching coping strategies and techniques to return to normal daily life. 

Seeing people go from their worst to their best, has been both fulfilling and rewarding. Helping someone return to their lives outside of the hospital, nursing home, and even hospice care, where they can lead a productive life independently or with their loved-ones, is a tremendous honor. I am personally thankful that I have been able to be a part of so many of these success stories.  

One particular story that helps me get through the difficult times at work, was a man we’ll call Victor. He came to the facility I worked in completely dependent—unable to even sit up on his own or feed himself. His family had their religious leaders come and pray for him as they weren’t sure he’d make it through the night. Over the course of three-months, we worked together nearly every day. 

In the beginning, it was physically hard-work. I often felt exhausted after each therapy session. But, despite the difficulties, we formed a strong bond of friendship. I was met with a smile every time I entered his room—even when the session was going to cause him pain, both emotionally and physically. 

As time went on, Victor got better. Before we realized it, he was able to sit up, stand, and even walk. He left the facility using a walker and I helped him into his wife’s car as they were headed back to the Midwest for the summer. I was so happy, but sad I wouldn’t see my friend every morning after breakfast. 

Winter came back around a few months later and who walked into the therapy-gym without the need for a walker or even a cane? That’s right, Victor! He and his wife came back to show me how well he was doing and to specifically tell me: “You made this possible. You helped him believe in himself enough to get better. Thank, you.” 

So, when I’m having a difficult day I think back to Victor and how I helped him—and how he helped me. I’m thankful for all the people that showed me that what I do on a daily basis made a difference to them and their families. And I look forward to next year and all the opportunities I will have to make a difference. 

I am thankful for Arbor Therapy for allowing me to be a part of an innovative, stand-out, clinic that has begun providing services to the community. 

Arbor Therapy: Striving To Make A Difference This Holiday Season



What do you think about when you hear the word, holiday? Does it conjure up happy memories of a childhood spent with family? Maybe you had a tradition of opening beautifully wrapped presents under a Christmas tree. Or, sitting around a table filled with laughter and conversation—the aroma of grandma’s pies baking in the oven. 

With the wide variety of cultures and traditions found in this great country, the memories and possibilities are truly endless. One thing is for certain. The holidays are a time of reflection on the past, a start of new beginnings, and a reason to be thankful. 

Having said this, we are all aware that the holidays are not a magic wand. They do not magically erase our problems. If we are struggling with physical impairments, the holidays can actually be a source of stress, pain, and put us in a socially difficult position. Let’s take a look at a few examples of what I’m talking about. Maybe you have experienced some of these first hand or know someone who has. 

Example one: An elderly gentleman who has recently suffered a stroke has been released from the hospital. He has returned to his home, just in time for the holiday! That’s great. . .right? Sure. If he is equipped to take care of himself or has the assistance he needs at home. Will he be able to shower, get dressed, or even attend a family function? Let’s say he has help. A caregiver provides him a shower, gets him dressed, and even drives him to the gathering. Will he be able to eat? Did the stroke weaken his throat, preventing him from safely swallowing that delicious turkey dinner? 

Example two: A beautiful young woman who was recently in a car accident. She sustained a few serious injuries, but is expected to make a full recovery. However, her injuries have not healed completely and she remains in a cervical collar and wrist brace. This young woman’s pain has been an ongoing problem. She’s also limited in her ability to get dressed in the usual attire because of the bulky and inconvenient braces.  

Example three: A small child who was born with disabilities that prevent him from enjoying some of the childhood activities other children take for granted. Maybe she is confined to a wheelchair and the festivities are being held at a multi-level home, where she is unable to follow the other kids around freely. Maybe she is also unable to safely consume regular food and requires her meals to be blended.  

These are just a few examples showing that the holidays can be a source of difficulty for some. The more we make ourselves aware of those around us and their specific needs, the happier and healthier everyone’s holiday becomes. 

Here at Arbor Therapy, we would like to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy holiday season. We are here to serve the needs of the community, and strive to make a real and lasting difference, one person at a time.  

Sign Language and Speech Therapy



From what I have seen and heard, parents of children with speech and language disabilities are hesitant when it comes to their child learning sign language. Individuals have a common misconception that if their child uses sign language they will become too comfortable signing and will not “make the effort” to use spoken language. When we hear people talk about “sign language”, we automatically think of an individual who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, but it should be about the language (a very visual and beautiful language)!  

Although sign language is the main form of communication in the Deaf community, it has shown to be a great tool for all children, whether they are typically developing or if they have speech and language difficulties. This alternative form of communication will not prevent speech, but reinforce and improve oral language skills by eliminating the child’s frustration when trying to express themselves.  

I have met many parents who have told me their child becomes frustrated and even aggressive when they don’t understand what their child wants or needs. Of course! We would all feel very isolated and angry if everything we wanted to say went untold. So why not work with every possible avenue available to communicate? 

All parents want to be able to communicate with their children and trust me, the kids do too! So why not use a form of communication that will allow this? Could it still be considered a stigma? As a speech professional and a mother, my personal view is that I would want my child to communicate in the most comfortable and effective way possible to make day-to-day life more enjoyable! 

It can be difficult to find a speech language professional who has the fluency in sign language needed to help bridge the gap in communication. But, services are available. They can be highly effective and make an impactful difference for the entire family! 

-Christina, SLPA & ASL expert