(Plymouth)– Physical therapists at Pemi-Baker Community Health (PBCH) are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. For almost a year, PBCH’s LSVT BIG specialist, Kaity Schwartzer, PT, DPT has been helping those experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease achieve amazing results, giving them renewed hope. For National Parkinson’s Awareness month, Pemi-Baker Community Health hopes to raise awareness of what can be done NOW if you are experiencing symptoms.
While you’ve likely heard of Parkinson’s disease (PD), many people don’t know exactly what the condition is or how it manifests itself. The condition can occur when there is a loss of brain cells that produce a chemical called dopamine. The four common symptoms are: tremors, limb and trunk stiffness, the slowing down of movement and weak balance or coordination. About 500,000 people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease, with about 50,000 people being diagnosed each year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Since PD symptoms increase over time, as they become worse, patients can have trouble with simple tasks such as getting in and out of bed or the bathtub— or even walking and talking. People with PD may also experience “freezing,” where they have extreme difficulty starting to walk again after having stopped, or difficulty stopping walking once started. This may lead to falls in the home and when out in the community. Pemi-Baker Community Health can help.
LVST BIG therapy was developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. Treatments target whole body movements for activities of daily living. LSVT programs are administered by specially-trained therapists, in an intensive manner — four times per week for four weeks — and are tailored to each patient.
Therapists ask patients to move in BIG or amplified ways, whether they’re walking, buttoning shirts and pants, getting keys or change out of pockets, or writing. These lead to smoother, larger, safer movements and improved quality of life.
Today, there are over 16,000+ physical and occupational therapists trained and certified in LSVT BIG in 42 countries around the world. Here at Pemi-Baker Community Health, Kaity Schwartzer, PT, DPT is certified to administer this technique. Treatments delivered by LSVT-certified clinicians consist of the following:
- Four LSVT-BIG sessions a week, for four consecutive weeks
- Sessions are individual one-hour treatment sessions
- Daily homework practice (all 30 days of the month)
- Daily carryover assignments (all 30 days of the month)
LSVT therapy benefits
Schwartzer says LSVT BIG patients typically notice improvements in walking, getting in and out of chairs, and rolling in bed as well as overall flexibility, balance, strength and endurance. Because the program is specific to individual patients and their needs, results are based on personal goals.
As for whom it can help, Schwartzer says, “the people with Parkinson’s disease who benefit the most from LSVT BIG therapy are those with minimal to moderate symptoms but as the protocol is customizable, anyone with PD at any stage of the disease may benefit.” Schwartzer can see people who have severe PD, even those who cannot walk or stand well, as all exercises can be modified to be laying down in bed if needed. The program requires cognitive effort to change habits and reprogram the brain to make bigger, more efficient movements, so patients who have little to no cognitive problems are the most successful.
Cynthia Mathews, a LSVT BIG participant, was hoping to slow the progression of her disease and was surprised how quickly she noticed changes. “Prior to BIG program participation, my neurologist was always encouraging me to, ‘Stand up straight’, and ‘Pick up your feet’ while walking, but I saw no way to do this without thinking about what I was doing with my arms, legs, and spine every single second. It just sounded impossible. However, after only two weeks participation in LSVT BIG, I noted that I had regained the ability to walk with good posture and no shuffling of my feet with virtually no conscious effort whatsoever. My husband has commented on my ‘new’ normal walk. That has made me feel good, and has helped to maximize my motivation” said Mathews.
Assistance at Pemi-Baker Community Health
Pemi-Baker Community Health currently offers LSVT BIG therapy at their location on Boulder Point Drive in Plymouth, NH. Prospective patients need to obtain a referral from their physician specifying LSVT BIG and Pemi-Baker Community Health. The LSVT BIG program falls under the same health insurance coverage as typical physical therapy, check with your insurance provider for your specific policy coverages.