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Parkinson’s disease patients now have access to a new treatment to improve motor skills called BIG™ therapy. Based on Lee Silver Voice Training (LSVT), BIG™ therapy is now offered at the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute at Alvarado Hospital.

BIG™ therapy focuses on improving motor skills, such as walking, leg and arm movement and balance. A recent study comparing BIG™ therapy with home exercise showed statistically significant improvement in overall mobility in the BIG™ therapy group.

“Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I have always been very active and enjoyed a regular exercise program for more than 40 years,” said John Maxwell, a San Diego resident. “Three years ago, I developed osteoarthritis in my right knee and all physical activity eventually became unbearable. It was vital for me to find a way to continue exercising because research has shown that physical activity can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s.”

Maxwell underwent knee replacement surgery in 2012 and then with the help of a personal trainer, he started a new fitness plan that incorporated exercises of benefit to Parkinson’s patients—including stretching, cardiac and weight-training. His training paid off and he was healed enough to participate in the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute’s BIG™ rehabilitation program.

Maxwell’s physical and occupational therapists worked with him to improve major motor skills during an intensive schedule of 16 60-minute therapy sessions over four weeks.

His treatments targeted whole body functional movements while retraining sensory feedback to learn how “normal” movements should feel. As a result, Maxwell experienced improvement in walking, balance, trunk rotation and dexterity.

“Having fully integrated the exercises I learned from my fitness trainer and the BIG™ program therapists last spring, I continue to experience new milestones,” Maxwell said. “I no longer use a cane to walk. On most occasions, my gait and posture are within the normal range. My right knee has fully recovered and I am now reaching a level of physical activity that I haven’t seen in many years.”

Maxwell added that through his fitness trainer and the certified BIG™ therapists, he has regained control of his life.

LSVT BIG™ program (based on the LOUD ™ program, which has been successful in improving voice quality) is a research-based exercise approaches that has been developed and scientifically researched over the past 20 years with funding from the National Institutes of Health. LSVT can help people with other conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, multiple systems atrophy, cerebral palsy, and even Down syndrome.

For more information about the LVST BIG™ rehabilitation program, call the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute at Alvarado Hospital at 619-229-7216 or visit SDRI accepts almost all private and government insurance plans.