Increasing Awareness of LSVT BIG®: Emphasizing Occupation

Increasing Awareness of LSVT BIG®: Emphasizing Occupation

By Katelyn Walsh, Occupational Therapy Student
University of South Dakota

I am an occupational therapy student at the University of South Dakota currently completing my Capstone project in southern Illinois. My interest in occupational therapy began at a young age, unbeknownst to me. My grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 38, and thus, throughout my childhood, I witnessed the progressive effects of this disease and impact on her occupational performance. Even at a young age, I would help her in the bathroom putting on her makeup, go shopping at the mall, and cook her famous cookies in the kitchen to name a few. This was only the beginning of my journey that led to occupational therapy school as well as my Capstone experience related to rehabilitation resources for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, more specifically, LSVT BIG®.

At the beginning of my Capstone project, I conducted a needs assessment to determine clients’ perceptions and awareness of resources for those with Parkinson’s in southern Illinois. A commonly utilized resource in the area is known as Rock Steady Boxing. 100% of those surveyed were aware of this resource, but only 65% were aware of LSVT BIG as an option. This led me to further analysis to determine where the breakdown in awareness was occurring.

Assessing Awareness of LSVT BIG in the Community
To directly improve awareness of LSVT BIG and other community resources, I did three things. First, I presented to both support groups and boxing classes, providing them with information on LSVT BIG and how to find LSVT BIG Clinicians in their area.  Next, I wrote a letter to physicians about LSVT BIG including the scope of practice of occupational therapy as a whole. Finally, I distributed LSVT BIG information to local facilities which were likely to provide care to people with PD.

An additional activity included in my project was the development of an occupation-based manual with pictorial representations of ways to “be BIG” in examples of everyday tasks. This was given to participants as a supplement to the LSVT BIG program.

LSVT BIG and Community Based Exercise Working Together
I have seen the incredible results of the LSVT BIG with numerous clients over the course of my fieldwork experiences. Based on my experiences, I believe that participation in the individualized LSVT BIG program first to recalibrate the sensory-motor system prior to participation in community-based group exercise is the most beneficial way to maximize outcomes and enhance functional performance.

Exercise and increased physical activity throughout the day are key to maintaining function and slowing the progression of the disease symptoms, but it is critical to focus on BIG movements and carryover into everyday tasks. Thus, participation in LSVT BIG, particularly with an occupational therapist with increased emphasis on activity analysis and activities of daily living performance, can enhance motor performance, balance, and increase independence in activities of daily living.  Collectively, this has a positive impact on overall quality of life.

Need to Raise Further Awareness of LSVT BIG
For clinicians certified in LSVT BIG, it is imperative for us to increase awareness of the LSVT programs for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This involves continuing research and dispersing the information that is currently published supporting the program, promoting the benefits of an evaluation from a skilled therapist prior to participation in an exercise program, and emphasis on the BIG for LIFE® component that assists in continuing BIG movements after discharge from therapy. As clinicians, it is our responsibility to provide the most evidence-based, occupation-focused intervention methods in order to improve function and enhance overall quality of life.

Want to learn more on this the role of exercise and therapy in PD?  View this free on-demand webinar “Exercise versus Therapy for PD: How do I decide?”

Interested in finding and LSVT BIG Certified OT in your area?  Find a clinician now!


Are you an OT or PT student or professional who is thinking of getting LSVT BIG Certified?  Learn more!