Imagine living in a world where when you want to step forward a foot, you really step forward a mere 6 inches. Every step you take is half the size of what you expect but your brain can’t adjust and take a bigger step. It takes you twice as long to walk anywhere, but you just can’t seem to speed up or take bigger steps.
This is a world people with Parkinson’s disease live in every day. Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that primarily affects movement control. The disease makes it hard for a person’s brain to connect what they want to do with what their body actually does. This is called a sensorimotor deficit. Other motor control symptoms of PD are tremors, small movements, decreased balance, shuffled gait and stiffness. Medications and exercise can improve motor control symptoms in many people. But there is only one program that is specifically designed to address the motor control and sensorimotor deficits in this progressive disease.
This program is called the LSVT BIG program. It is based off the LSVT LOUD program which is now the gold standard for treating voice impairments in people with Parkinson’s Disease. This program has been researched and developed over the past 25 years with funding from the National Institute of Health. Research has shown that after completing the LSVT BIG program, people demonstrate faster walking with bigger steps, improved balance, increased trunk rotation, and improvements in activities of daily living such as bed mobility.
So what makes the BIG program so unique? It is an intense program that is completed over 4 weeks. Each week consists of 4 one on one hour long sessions with a physical or occupational therapist whom is a certified LSVT BIG practitioner, daily homework and assignments. The program is customized to each person’s needs and goals. Goals can be as simple as being able to stand up from the couch without help to getting back to road biking 20 miles a day.
“I got my life back”
“I feel like I have purpose again”
People who complete this program, are truly grateful for what they have learned and how they have improved. With hard work and dedication, amazing things can happen. Lives can be changed. Movement becomes the medicine.
It is not an easy program to complete. It is intense and requires complete dedication. People have said it takes over their lives for a month. Exercises are performed two times a day, seven days a week. Each exercises session takes about 30 minutes to complete. Once the program is finished, people are encouraged to continue with the exercises one to two times a day for the rest of their lives. The BIG program can be completed every year to continually adjust exercises to allow for continued challenge and improvement. Medicare and other insurances will typically cover the program.
Is the LSVT BIG program for you? If you have Parkinson’s Disease, yes, it is for you. No matter what your level of ability is, this program can be customized to allow you to achieve your goals. Make an appointment to see your local LSVT BIG certified therapist and learn how movement can be your medicine or call Agility Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine to speak with Jenna for any questions or concerns.
Visit the LSVT Global website for more information.
Dr. Jenna Schauer, PT, DPT, CKTP
Agility Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine