My name is Leon, and I live in New Orleans. I moved here from Seattle in 2017. I was suffering from depression since my wife had died from Alzheimer’s, so my daughter asked me to move to be with family. I had been here for four or five months, and I didn’t do much exercise or walking. I then started to notice some problems with my walking and had some falls. My primary care doctor referred me to a movement disorders neurologist, who after a DaTscan, informed me that I had Parkinson’s disease. That was June of 2018. I started carbidopa/levodopa and did not have any side effects.

I was prescribed PT, OT, and Speech Therapy. It was there that I was first taught about LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD. It was there that I also first learned about the importance of exercise and its effect on Parkinson’s.

About a year later I was asked to join a research class with 4th year OT students at LSU Health Sciences. It dealt with LSVT BIG and functional exercises for Parkinson’s. It was a four-month long commitment, one day a week with daily homework. I did my LSVT exercises every day, and I began to notice some improvement in my walking, speech, and movement, especially when getting in and of a car, sitting down, and standing. With COVID-19, the in-person class at first stopped but then went to Zoom. I also joined a virtual Parkinson’s dance class. After that, I was introduced to LSVT Global’s Virtual BIG for LIFE and LOUD for LIFE classes.  My walking and talking have steadily improved during this time!

Now that the fitness center has reopened, I have joined the Parkinson’s exercise class. I go twice a week and have improved my walking distance to one mile. What has inspired me is that through listening to different webinars and reading articles on Parkinson’s, the number one emphasis on treating the disease is EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!

I have been involved in several LSVT BIG training sessions with clinicians and students, and the one thing I try to relate is the value of exercise and the importance they play in providing motivation for the patients to continue exercise so they are to maintain their physical condition

-- Leon P.