by Bri Dandrea
The LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) program was started for patients with Parkinson’s. There are two different specialties within the program, LSVT-Loud and LSVT-Big. The Loud specialty is designed to help patients use their voice at a normal loudness level. The Loud program is typically completed by speech language pathologists. The LSVT-Big program is implemented for increasing normalness of body movement.
I am an occupational therapist and am certified in LSVT-BIG. Physical therapists and occupational therapists can both be certified in this program. The BIG program is focused on movements of the body. Typically with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders, a patient’s movements become slower and smaller (such as a shuffling gait). The program can be completed with early or late stage Parkinson’s. Sessions are focused on ‘recalibrating’ patient movements and actions. With this technique, we are able to increase a patient’s function in self-care and daily activities.
What an LSVT-BIG patient should expect
Whole-body exercises are completed during sessions and personalized for each individual. The patient can expect to hear “Think BIG!” from the therapist as a cue for every movement. Because movements with Parkinson’s and similar conditions are smaller, we work on making movements over exaggerated. The patient will likely feel silly or awkward, and might even think the movements seem too big. However, by the end of treatment, a patient should feel like the larger movements are normal. Repetition is key and patients should expect daily assignments or homework.
A typical span of treatment is about 4-6 weeks. Once a patient ‘graduates,’ they can expect to be sent home with a home exercise program to continue after in-person sessions are completed. They may also be scheduled for tune-up sessions later in the year, as is it important to return for reassessment in order to update exercises or modify movements.
There is research for the effectiveness of LSVT-BIG treatments for patients with Parkinson’s and post-stroke difficulties. New studies are always being conducted and updated to improve treatments.
I have seen this program help patients with Parkinson’s and a person who was two years post-stroke. If you are unsure if this program will help, please come visit with a therapist. We can help determine if the program will be appropriate for you.
Reference: LSVT Global, Inc. 2021