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2014 Fall

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Nina Brown: There’s No Medicine Like Hope

Nina Brown There's No Medicine Like Hope

“Hope is not a dream, but a way of making your dreams become a reality.” Those are the words of Nina Brown, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1985 and has since been a tireless advocate for the Parkinson’s community and for medical research. For many years, she has served on the Houston Area Parkinson Society (HAPS) board of directors in various capacities, including vice president and secretary of the executive board and editor of the HAPS monthly newsletter.

"I firmly believe in accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative,” says Brown, who has devoted her life to educating the public about Parkinson’s disease and is a recognized resource for politicians and advocates seeking information about the condition and current medical research. “For that reason I loved working with the therapists at TIRR Memorial Hermann,” she says. “They are positive and tireless. They have the patience and diligence it takes to work successfully with patients with Parkinson’s.”

Brown received physical therapy and speech therapy for a number of years at TIRR Memorial Hermann Outpatient Rehabilitation at the Kirby Glen Center, and currently is a regular participant in a HAPS-sponsored exercise class held at the Center every Tuesday evening.

One of her therapists, Kristine L. Conley, CCC-SLP, describes her as a “wonderful, determined lady who has worked hard and made good gains in therapy."

Brown benefited from several programs offered by TIRR Memorial Hermann, including Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT-LOUD™) for improving voice volume, and LSVT-BIG™, an intensive whole-body, amplitude-based training protocol for people with Parkinson’s disease.”

"She never let her diagnosis hold her back and worked very hard, which is why she met her goals. It was rewarding to see her regain independence in areas of her life she was struggling in.”

- Gail Greene, PT, D.P.T.

Nina made great progress with LSVT-LOUD, which is one of the most widely practiced treatments for speech disorders associated with Parkinson’s disease,” Conley says. “The treatment focuses on increasing vocal loudness using an intensive approach of four sessions a week for four weeks to improve voice and speech function.”

In LSVT-BIG, she worked with Gail Greene, PT, D.P.T. “LSVT-BIG focuses on balance, strength, walking and endurance,” Greene says. “Clients work toward functional goals that are meaningful to them – going to the movies with family or friends, walking the dogs or tasks as simple as getting out of bed in the morning and putting on socks.

“Nina was a joy to work with and always had a smile on her face,” she adds. “She never let her diagnosis hold her back and worked very hard, which is why she met her goals. It was rewarding to see her regain independence in areas of her life she was struggling in.”

TIRR Memorial Hermann maximizes outcomes by providing innovative and effective treatment techniques, such as LSVT-LOUD and LSVT-BIG. In addition, TIRR Memorial Hermann provides therapeutic exercise and functional activity programs tailored to the needs of Parkinson’s patients that can help with daily activities such as walking, self-care, work and leisure; fall prevention; and overall strength, flexibility and endurance. Programs cover the full continuum of care for patients with Parkinson’s disease, including inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and a community wellness program. Support groups, counseling and education are also provided.

They give us hope when we need it most,” Brown says.

Because of the work she has done, her determination and positive spirit, she was asked to make a presentation on hope as a keynote speaker for a statewide Parkinson’s meeting held in Arizona in 2004. “While I was there, I realized how essential hope is in the lives of everyone, not just those with Parkinson’s disease.” Since then she has taken her message of hope on the road, presenting it nationally.

There’s always good to be found,” Brown says. “It’s important to have fun and never give up hope.”