LSVT Global University Partner Spotlight: Creighton University

Creighton University’s tagline, “Transformative experiences, Exceptional outcomes” could not be more true. In 2016, Dr. Lou Jensen, OTD, OTR/L, who served as Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department at that time, was a pioneer by being one of the very first universities to pilot the Online LSVT BIG® Training and Certification course for Occupational Therapy (OT) students.  

Since 2016, Creighton University has offered the LSVT BIG Training and Certification Course six times to their occupational and physical therapy students and faculty.  As a result of these experiences, there are now 400 physical and occupational therapists who are prepared to transform the lives of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological disorders, achieving exceptional outcomes that are backed by science. 

Dr. Lou E Jensen, OTD, OTR/L, Associate Vice Provost, Associate Professor

In March of 2024, the Neurological Rehabilitation Organization Student Board, with the help of PT faculty Dr. Heather Knight and OT faculty Dr. Rebecca Kinnison, organized a community event for thirty-seven PT and OT students who had recently completed the 15-hour Online LSVT BIG Training and Certification Course. During this on-campus event, they shared information and practiced their new skills with individuals with PD from around the community. 

In this video, hear from Dr. Heather Knight as she shares her insights on this transformative experience for their students with this community event.

Dr. Rebecca Kinnison, OTD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program provides her viewpoint of what this type of education and learning event brings to their university students and their community in the questions below.

Why has it been important for Creighton University to hold the LSVT BIG Certification Course for the PT and OT students?

We found that these are skills that they’re going to be using when they go on their clinical rotations. Both OT and PT go out into the clinic and many of them have supervisors and clinical educators who are LSVT BIG certified. This would allow them to participate in those treatments more fully, more hands on.

We want to be leaders in the neuro rehabilitation field. This is a really great evidence-based practice that we wanted to offer to our students and make sure that they feel prepared in providing the most up to date and evidence-based practice.

What do the students value the most about the LSVT BIG training opportunity? 

Students really love that this is a hands-on, tactile approach to therapy. It’s not just a theory, it’s not just a few techniques, but it is a protocol. It is evidence-based, and it gives them a really practical way to help implement this while also using their clinical skills and their clinical reasoning. 

Do you have any words of advice or recommendations for other OT and PT faculty or students considering LSVT BIG Training and Certification?

It’s been great to see the hands-on approach and seeing students actually engage in the material because they want to.  Students are prepared for their clinicals. We get the cost reduction because they do it as students and they are ready to roll as practitioners upon graduation. 

These students are ready to be leaders in their field, especially OTD and DPT students, and they come out ready to roll and ready to be leaders. We really step back and try to be faculty moderators/mentors, and let the students really lead the process of the organization and gathering for this event. They wanted to do it, and they were willing to put in the work, so we were all in on making sure it can happen. 

What feedback have you received from participants with PD who took part in LSVT BIG sessions during the event?

They love helping the next generation learn. We had some who had never done LSVT BIG before, and they said, “I’m signing up, can you help me find a partner to sign up, I want to do the whole program”. 

Our students had said they loved that they got the online aspect, that they got to do the training and all of that, but being able to apply it in person and physically see how clients were moving as they came in and how they left. Just getting to interact with a variety of different clients with a variety of different skill levels. I loved that part of it. They love being able to apply something that they learned into a real-life aspect. 

Can you share any stories or successes from participants with PD who benefited from LSVT BIG during your event?

One person was so excited to see these big steps and to feel the difference that it made in his body. Then to have the students cheer him on and that they started clapping when he made a big turn without the hesitation, without that festinating gait. It was so nice to see him just light up, he was so excited to see the difference that we could make.

Another person was talking about things like her handwriting and how small it had gotten. During some of the functional component tasks, the students had her do finger flicks and she was like, “I couldn’t believe the difference that those finger flicks made. I’m going to have to start remembering before I write to do the finger flicks, because it makes such a difference in my ability to write”. 

Just giving them some cues and some knowledge over how their body works made a huge impact on these clients.

What advice would you give to other faculty members or organizations interested in incorporating LSVT BIG into their events or programs?

Let it be student led. They have the desire, and they have the leadership skills to do it. Just with a little bit of coordinating on your part, it can become such an impactful thing for the students and the community.

I feel like I’ve helped with many support groups and many of those things in the past. We do a lot of talking, but it’s hard sometimes to get the physical action going. I think it’s such a great resource to be able to bring to other community members and to give them something active and some give some sense of control over their disease. 

That you don’t have to let Parkinson’s dictate how small your movements are, we can retrain the brain. I think that that part of it can be super impactful. Just provide, again, tangible ways to improve their daily lives.

If you are interested in learning more about LSVT Global’s University Training Program for OT, PT and SLP students click here or contact us!

LSVT Global is proud to partner with Creighton University, a national leader in providing patient-centered, interdisciplinary education for allied health professionals. It has been a true joy to collaborate with the Occupational and Physical Therapy faculty and students over the last eight years.  Each time we have collaborated with Creighton to offer LSVT BIG Training and Certification to their students, we have gained valuable insights about how to optimize the learning experience in new and creative ways. The students being trained today are gaining knowledge, skills and hands on experience that will benefit patients they will serve over the next 40 years.

-Laura Guse’, PT, MPT, Chief Clinical Officer of LSVT BIG®