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    Back In Motion Physical Therapy PLC
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Think “BIG” When Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Alexandria and Lorton VA, June 19th, 2016. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year. Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disease of the nervous system characterized by rigidity, slow movement, tremor and balance difficulties.

As Parkinson's disease progresses, nerve cells within the brain malfunction and die. These nerve cells, called neurons, produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine helps send signals to the area of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson's disease progresses, the amount of dopamine produced decreases, therefore impacting a person's ability to control movement, balance and gait.

LSVT BIG is a new, evidenced-based treatment method for Parkinson's disease. Certifications programs are offered for Physical and Occupational Therapists. It is based on 20 years of research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Studies have shown that treatments can lead to significant long lasting changes in patient's balance, gait pattern and overall function.

Ann Marie Simko, Physical Therapist, certified in the LSVT BIG program, noted immediate improvements in her patient's fluidity of movement and ease of stair climbing. It is amazing to watch each patient transform over the 4 week program, becoming more independent with functional activities, moving with greater confidence and walking safely with increased speed. It brings me such joy to make such a significant impact in their lives," said Simko.

The treatment utilizes high intensity movement patterns and emphasizes movements with large amplitude. The repetitions of these specific exaggerated motions appear to unlock the patient's stiff motions. The LSVT BIG program takes place over the course of 16, hour-long sessions in a one-month time period and is delivered by a LSVT BIG certified clinician. The LSVT BIG program also incorporates daily homework and carryover exercises, which encourages patients to integrate the practice they receive in the clinic into their daily life.

After completing the program it is vital to reinforce these daily exercises to further improve your balance, strength and endurance. If you find it difficult to perform these exercises on your own, find a post LSVT BIG class in your area.

If you are a patient with Parkinson's disease or know of one who is interested in improving their functional mobility and decreasing their risk of traumatic falls, talk to your doctor about the LSVT BIG program. If you need more information regarding Parkinson's disease, including the latest treatment advances, such as deep brain stimulation, support groups or want to find a doctor or allied health professional in your area that specializes in this and other movement disorders, please visit:

Most insurance companies will cover this physical therapy technique, however, be sure your doctor's prescription for physical therapy specifies the LSVT BIG treatment program. Please call and schedule an evaluation with a BIG certified Physical Therapist to see if you are an appropriate candidate for this program.