Announcing the 2018 LSVT Global Small Student Grant Winners!- Physical Therapy Awardees

We congratulate the 2018 physical therapy student grant recipients!

Each student received a $1,500 small student grant from LSVT Global, to be used during the 2018-2019 academic year. These unrestricted grants provide funding to help support their treatment research projects.

Download information about our 2019 Student Grant competition for physical therapy students hereLetters of Intent are due March 29, 2019.  Domestic and International applications are welcome.

Physical Therapy Awardees

Holly Johnson

DPT Student

Northern Arizona University, Phoenix

“Boxing as an Alternate Treatment for Sleep Disorders in Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease: A Feasibility Study”





Over 95% of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) suffer from at least one sleep-related dysfunction1. Sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and excessive daytime sleepiness are non-motor signs of PD that impact mobility and increase risk of falls2. Non-traditional meditative exercise and multi-modal exercise have been shown to improve sleep in individuals with PD. It is unknown if a relationship exists between the level of intensity of exercise and sleep quality.

Boxing is a high- intensity exercise that has become a popular exercise option with the PD community and results in improved mobility5. It is a fun, convenient mode of exercise that maintains high-intensity. The purpose of this feasibility study is to determine if a high-intensity exercise, i.e. boxing, has an effect on sleep and daytime sleepiness and the relationship to mobility in individuals with PD. We anticipate improved sleep measures in both sleep quality and daytime sleepiness and improved mobility. Measures will be collected at baseline, 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks. Individuals with PD, screened for positive RBD, will participate in one-onone boxing training 2 times a week for 6 weeks at a community gym supervised by research personnel. A heart rate monitor worn during training will track the level of exercise intensity and participants will keep an activity log during weeks 7 to 12 tracking hours and type of exercise per week. Data from the activity log will help to determine the type of intensity exercise post training and assist in describing the correlation of sleep and mobility measures at week 12. This study will provide preliminary data on the feasibility of investigating the effectiveness of high intensity exercise on sleep and daytime sleepiness in individuals with PD.

Briana O’Grady

DPT Student

University of Rhode Island

“LSVT BIG® Exercise-Induced Neuroplasticity in Patients with

Parkinson’s Disease”





Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most common progressive neurodegenerative disease, continue to have limited options for treatment beyond pharmacological interventions such as dopamine replacement therapy upon initial diagnosis. People with Parkinson’s Disease (PwPD) are often not referred for physical therapy or speech therapy until they are demonstrating significant decline in quality of life, impaired mobility, and speech or swallowing issues. Physical therapists have been addressing balance, mobility, and gait issues for PwPD with a wide variety of therapeutic exercise treatment interventions with limited evidence to support which interventions are most effective.

A Cochrane review comparing one physical therapy technique to a second technique in 2001 only generated 7 potential randomized trials compared to a revised review in 2014 that in included 43 trials, only one of which was an LSVT® BIG study (Tomlinson, et al., 2014). This reflects the growing interest in behavioral interventions for this population but more importantly, highlights the need to establish evidence-based treatment interventions within physical therapy. LSVT BIG is an intensive, whole-body, amplitude-based training protocol that proposes the incorporation of principles of motor learning to drive activity dependent changes in neural plasticity as the foundation to address the cardinal motor impairments of PD including akinesia, bradykinesia, and hyperkinesia present in PD for generalization or treatment effects outside of the clinical environment (Farley et al. 2008; Kleim and Jones 2008).

The proposed research will include the recruitment of 16 PwPD for participation in an LSVT BIG treatment intervention. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups 1) Immediate-start treatment group (ITG) or 2) Delayed-start treatment group (DTG). Each participant will complete an initial assessment and two followup assessments and include the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, gait analysis, TUG, Tinetti, QOL surveys, a depression survey, and physical activity assessment. The first aim is to determine the effects of LSVT BIG on a variety of mobility measures as well as quality of life measures in people with Parkinson’s disease (PwPD). A second aim is to determine if there is any correlation between lifetime physical activity/exercise and outcome measures or adherence with treatment intervention.

We hypothesize that the LSVT BIG protocol will produce measurable and lasting changes on mobility outcome and quality of life measures in PwPD that will be maintained at follow-up and that high levels of lifetime physical activity will correlate with improved adherence with treatment.

“The LSVT-global small student grant made my dissertation study possible.  I was thrilled to find the LSVT-global small student grant program.  Working with individuals with Parkinson disease is something that is both personally and professionally meaningful to me, and continuing this line of research early in my career means so much.”

-Laura Grimm, 2017 OT Grant Winner

Thank you so much for the opportunity to apply for this grant! I am so honored and happy that I was chosen!! I am very excited!

 -Holly Johnson, 2018 PT Grant Winner