Kim Cullen PT, DPT, CLT demonstrates the concept of LSVT BIG
Kim Cullen PT, DPT, CLT, is the Clinical Director of Bacharach Physical Therapy in Tuckerton. She has treated people with Parkinson’s disease for years and is certified in a program called LSVT BIG. The program is designed to help Parkinson’s patients use their bodies more normally.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder. Over time it causes tremors, stiffness and slower movements, impaired balance, and speech difficulties.
Kim says that LSVT BIG is helpful for anyone with Parkinson’s, from someone having minimal symptoms to someone whose disease has advanced.
“The 16 visit program is four visits each week,” Kim said. “It starts with 7 exercises to improve amplitude, making movements bigger and more exaggerated. The second part is functional, it’s asking each patient ‘What do you want to do better? What would you not want to get worse?’ and working on those things.”
LSVT BIG is designed to combat the slowing of movement by teaching Parkinson’s patients to consciously exaggerate their movements. LSVT BIG encourages people to swing their arms while walking and to take large purposeful steps.
“Someone might say they are having a hard time putting on a shirt. A person with Parkinson’s is struggling with how much force to use to get the arm through the sleeve. Or trouble with stairs. If I put an 8” step in front of you, you know how high to raise your foot. The Parkinson’s patient doesn’t. Even handwriting may be diminished. So the exercises are specific to the goals of the patient.”
“Next is walking. We work on bigger arm movements, bigger leg movements, turning and using verbal cues. Sometimes walking may be OK, but if there is a distraction, it may crumble. In addition to the four visits a week, they’re supposed to do the exercises at home each day, and twice on the days they don’t come in.
“I would recommend that persons with Parkinson’s disease who have completed the initial 16 visit program should consider “tune ups” with LSVT BIG every 6-12 months. This can consist of 1-3 visits per week for 2-6 weeks depending on individual needs and goals.”