What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nervous system and gradually impairs movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. It is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, leading to a shortage of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement.
How can LSVT BIG® help??
LSVT BIG® is a specific therapy program that is based on the same principles as the LSVT LOUD® treatment but focuses on improving physical movements in people living with Parkinson’s disease. LSVT BIG® was developed by Dr. Cynthia Fox and some of her colleagues based on their approach to the LSVT LOUD® program. Dr. Fox still serves as faculty for some of the certification courses for both programs.
LSVT BIG® is a standardized and intensive exercise program that aims to improve the amplitude and quality of movement in people living with Parkinson’s disease. The program includes exercise basics such as large amplitude movements, weight shifting, gait, and balance training. The exercises are designed to retrain the brain to recognize and produce normal movements, as well as to increase strength, flexibility, and coordination.
LSVT BIG® can only be administered by a physical therapist or occupational therapist who is trained and certified in the protocol. The program is a little more intense than typical therapy sessions and includes hour-long one on one sessions scheduled four times a week for four weeks. The therapy is individualized to each person’s specific needs, and the exercises are adapted as needed throughout the program.
Research has shown that LSVT BIG® can improve the quality of movement and function in people living with Parkinson’s disease, resulting in greater mobility, balance, and confidence in daily activities.
Here are some examples of exercises that may be included in LSVT BIG®:
- Sit to stand- can be performed from a variety of surfaces and heights to ensure safe transfers in various situations.
- Walking- utilizing different strategies to improve safety and technique with walking. It helps patients to practice how to safely walk on various surfaces and with other challenges.
- Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)- the different things that we do each and every day that we normally don’t think about as activities. These can include brushing our hair or teeth, washing dishes, getting dressed, and more. These are chosen specifically for each patient.
- Step and reach exercises- to help improve how we step and reach for things such as going to cabinets to get a glass, stepping backward away from a shelf or sink, and reaching across while cooking.
It’s important to note that the activities and exercises in LSVT BIG® should only be performed under the guidance of a licensed physical or occupational therapist who is certified in the protocol, and who can tailor these activities to each person’s specific needs and abilities.
LSVT BIG® can also be performed with a variety of different stages of the disease, from recently diagnosed, to wheelchair-bound patients. The adaptability of this program makes it a great tool to help maintain independence as long as possible and make meaningful changes to someone’s daily life.
Carolina Physical Therapy offers LSVT BIG® at our Northeast Columbia clinic.