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LSVT Big program helps those with Parkinson's Disease

Physical therapists working with Parkinson's Disease patients

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the nervous system, and a common affect of the disease is a softening of the voice. But another effect of the disease is stiffness and decreased movement.

To treat patients, physical therapists are using a program already in place, LSVT Loud, to think outside of the box.

"If we can use these techniques to make our speaking muscles work more effectively, why not use the same principles for the muscles that move our legs, our arms, and our posture," says Marty Walsh, physical therapist with Mercy Medical Center.

Parkinson's affects the nerves that give sensory feedback, meaning physical therapists need to work with patients to correct the brain when it comes to otherwise simple tasks.

"One of the first areas to be impaired is your ability to sense the size and regulation of your movement," says Walsh.

And that's where LSVT Big came about. Physical therapists meet individually with patients to diagnose what exercises and programs will benefit them the most. From there, they work together in this intensive program, focusing on giving maximum effort, reach, and movement.

"If they're every day doing a set of exercises for 20 or 30 minutes that focuses on expanding their range of motion and maintaining their muscles, they can maintain those physical abilities and their normal movement patterns longer than they otherwise would," says Walsh.

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