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Therapy puts the BIG back into small movements experienced by Parkinson’s patients

By Erin Madison, Great Falls Tribune, www.greatfallstribune.com

Eileen Lane’s doctor first thought something might be wrong when he noticed that she no longer swung her left arm when she walked.

Soon after, Lane, 75, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.Lane had no idea her arm didn’t swing normally. That’s a common issue with Parkinson’s — people think their movements are normal, when in reality they are actually small and weak.”It slows your movement down, and it can almost freeze your movement,” said Julie Bliss, physical therapist at the Great Falls Clinic. “They’re really not aware that they’re not moving right.”

Bliss recently started offering a physical therapy program to help treat the movement, balance and flexibility issues that can accompany Parkinson’s.

“They’re saying it may slow down the disease progression,” Bliss said of the program.

The program is called LSVT-BIG. LSVT originally was developed as a speech therapy program, called LSVT-LOUD, launched in 1993. It focused on teaching patients to speak louder. Parkinson’s can cause people to speak softly, but they often aren’t aware of the change in their voice.

LSVT-BIG, introduced in 2007, uses the same theory, but with movement. Patients use exaggerated movements during therapy sessions, such as big arm swings, or high knee steps, with the idea that those large movements will balance out with their small movements to keep them moving normally.

The research for both programs was funded through National Institutes of Health grants. Click here to read the rest of the article.


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