What is LSVT and How Does it Help Parkinson's disease?
LSVT treatment for Parkinson's Disease

What is LSVT, and How Does it Help Parkinson’s Disease?

This article was updated for accuracy and relevancy on January 12, 2022.

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, patients start to lose their ability to walk, talk and complete activities of daily living. The Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) is a proven therapy that helps patients with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological condition that affects nerve cells in the brain responsible for body movement. Patients learn to do things big and loud by exaggerating movements or talking a little louder.

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month! Physical and occupational therapy can help and includes specialized programs such as LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG, which help patients manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. PT includes general conditioning exercises, functional training, and gait and balance training. Therapists also can offer strategies to safely transfer to and from the bed, in and out of the shower and other daily activities.

LSVT is an effective, evidence-based approach to treating Parkinson’s disease. LSVT programs have been scientifically and clinically proven to improve the balance, walking, and general movement and speech patterns of patients. Through targeted and repetitive exercises, the therapy takes advantage of the brain’s ability to adapt and form new neural connections. This neuroplasticity enables people to create new motor-skill and language memories and apply them in real-world situations.

Four Common Symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Limb and trunk stiffness
  • Bradykinesia, or the slowing of movements
  • And weak balance or coordination

PD symptoms progressively get worse over time and patients can have difficulty with daily tasks such as getting out of a chair, getting dressed, even walking, talking and swallowing.

LSVT Big Therapy vs. LSVT Loud Therapy

LSVT has two distinct treatment types, namely LSVT Big and Loud. LSVT big treatment is a form of physical therapy that addresses a patient’s motor function. Meanwhile, LSVT loud therapy is a form of speech therapy that helps Parkinson’s disease patients speak louder by stimulating their voice box muscles.

LSVT LOUD leads to functional improvements by addressing the internal aspects of symptoms, particularly impaired voice and swallowing function. Certified LSVT practitioners help people “recalibrate” their perceptions to know how loud or soft they sound to other people and maintain improved speech patterns and volume.

“LSVT LOUD trains people with PD to use their voice at a more normal loudness level while speaking at home, work, or in the community,” according to the LSVT website.

With LSVT BIG, patients learn how to use their bodies more normally through exercises that involve large and exaggerated movement patterns. Larger movements help patients move better, with more confidence and safety, whether that involves small motor tasks such as buttoning a shirt or maintaining balance while walking.

LSVT in the Ivy Rehab Network

There are over 4,000 certified LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD clinicians around the world, and many Ivy Rehab clinics offer this specialized therapy:

Therapy ranges from one-on-one sessions to group LSVT BIG exercise classes, aquatic therapy, rehabilitation physical therapy, and support groups. Contact a clinic today and learn how to manage your Parkinson’s symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. Moving matters, and so does a positive, proactive mindset!

 

Article by: Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA 

Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network

Practicing physical therapist, partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network with more than 40 years of experience in sports management with young athletes, and is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults. Deuer is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.

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