LVST BIG Program

LSVT BIG™ is not a small undertaking.

“ For every movement I am working on, I already feel it is paying off. That’s why I’m putting all of my effort in. ”

Sylvia
Sylvia Huete, 77, has been a New Orleans native for most of her life – she is a retired attorney and professor at Dillard University, mother, artist and world traveler; and has been living with Parkinson’s disease since 2006. 

In her retirement, Sylvia’s passions are painting and traveling. She loves to experience new places and express herself through art. As a person living with Parkinson’s disease, these passions are now challenging for Sylvia, but she is determined to do everything she can to slow the progression of her disease and work hard to maintain daily activities that she enjoys. Exercise plays a large part in maintaining these abilities and the latest LSVT BIG™ therapy at Touro is already making a difference for Sylvia in her physical stability and in performing daily activities such as getting in and out of the car and getting dressed. 

“Out, turn…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and finish BIG.” These words are repeated with liveliness by Touro rehab patient Sylvia Huete as she practices one of her LSVT BIG™ exercises during a Friday morning therapy session. She stands, spreads her arms out as wide as she can and pivots, holding for a count of 10 and repeats This is one of the many exercises designed to strengthen her muscles and improve balance in her arms and legs in her one hour therapy session and home exercise session.

In addition to the strengthening exercises, the LSVT BIG™ program helps patients identify functional goals and develop exercises and practices to improve or meet those goals. What seem likeordinary, unnoticed tasks for most individuals are important keys to independence for a person with Parkinson’s disease. Sylvia’s LSVT BIG™ goals include dressing herself and improving the time it takes her to get dressed, pulling her keys out of her pocket and getting in and out of the car. 

“LSVT BIG™ allows patients to identify important tasks in their daily life, and we work them into components to practice in therapy,” said Touro LSVT™-certified Occupational Therapist Francine Bienvenu. “Sylvia has already improved the time it takes her to get dressed by improving the way she puts her pants on by rotating her body. She also has learned that pants with a zipper are easier for her because they open wider.”

Sylvia and her therapists practice getting in anD out of the car with an exercise that includes pushing open the car door, learning forward, stepping up and then stepping out away from the car in two movements that allow her to slam the door shut in a final, BIG movement. 

“For every movement I am working on, I already feel it is paying off,” said Sylvia. “That’s why I’m putting all of my effort in.” 

After just two weeks of LSVT BIG™ physical and occupational therapy, Sylvia improved her posture so much that she had to extend the length of her cane. This is something her therapist Francine referred to as an “Ah-ha” moment. 

LSVT BIG™ is not a small undertaking. In addition to one hour of therapy four times per week during the month-long program, patients practice exercises and homework for an additional hour per day. On days patients do not come to therapy, they practice for two one-hour sessions at home. And the exercises do not stop at the end of the month-long program. LSVT™ teaches patients exercises to practice for life. It’s a use it or lose it philosophy. Maintaining strength and skill takes a commitment to practice daily and a strong self-determination.