What is LSVT BIG and how can Physical Therapists help?
- Posted on: Jul 10 2019
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects the body’s ability to move properly and control movement. Symptoms start gradually, typically presenting with a tremor in the hands first. As the disease advances, the brain’s ability to produce dopamine gradually decreases and is eventual lost. Dopamine is vital for relaying messages in the brain that control the body’s movement system. With decreasing dopamine levels, the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include resting tremor, decreased amplitude/rigid movement, changes in facial expression, and softened voice. Parkinson’s can eventually progress to more constant tremors, difficulty balancing that leads to increasing fall risk, and difficulty with upright posture.
Primary treatment for Parkinson’s focuses on medications that target dopamine release/regulation within the brain to limit symptoms of movement impairment. Physical therapy also plays a large role in the treatment of Parkinson’s. Numerous studies have shown the efficacy of regular exercise, including flexibility and balance training in slowing the process of Parkinson’s.
LSVT BIG is an exercise program specifically designed for individuals with Parkinson’s. The bases for LSVT BIG began over 20 years ago, initially as LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) targeted at Parkinson’s effects on vocal projection. Unlike traditional physical therapy interventions which target flexibility, strength, and balance as a whole, LSVT BIG focuses on Parkinson’s effect on range, amplitude, and quality of movement. Research on LSVT BIG has demonstrated improvements in movement speed, balance, and overall improved quality of life. LSVT BIG is administered as a four-times per week, four-week program by an LSVT BIG certified physical therapist. Each program consists of individualized movements from the BIG protocol targeted at the patient’s specific deficits.
How can we help? Although the LSVT BIG program is administered by LSVT BIG certified clinicians, physical therapists are trained in the basic concepts and movements involved in the program. With this knowledge, therapy sessions can be taken to the next level, including traditional physical therapy interventions with concepts from LSVT BIG to facilitate maximal patient function.
Posted in: Medical Education