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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Apr 23

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects how you move. These changes are due to the loss of dopamine-secreting neurons in the brain. Dopamine is essential for control and coordination of movements.

Common Symptoms and Functional Limitations

  • Resting tremor
  • Rigidity
  • Postural instability
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movements)
  • Hypokinesia (reduced amplitude/size of movement)
  • Depression
  • Loss of higher cognitive functions
  • Dementia
  • Autonomic abnormalities
  • Sensory changes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Emotional changes

How can Physical or Occupational Therapy Help?

Evidence has shown that exercise is neuroprotective and can aid in the brain producing growth factors to protect dopamine-producing neurons from early death. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve gait and quality of life. The LSVT BIG Program trains people with Parkinson’s Disease to move more normally and with improved ratings on tests of motor functioning, including:

Faster walking with bigger steps

Improved balance

Increased trunk rotation

Improvements in activities of daily living such as bed mobility

It is a standardized treatment protocol, which is customized to the unique goals of each patient including both gross and fine motor skills.

Kaylea Fields, PT, DPT, OCS


  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Parkinson’s Disease. 1998-2021.
  2. Ebersbach, G.,Ebersbach, A., Edler, D., et al. (2010). Comparing exercise in Parkinson’s disease- the BerlinLSVT@BIG study. Movement Disorders., 25,2478.
  3. Fox, C., Ebersbach G., Ramig, L., & Sapir, S. (2012). LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG: Behavioral treatment programs for speech and body movement in Parkinson disease. Parkinson’s Disease, 2012., Article ID 391946, 12 pgs.
  4. Janssens J, Malfroid K, Nyffeler T, et al. Application of LSVT BIG Intervention to Address Gait, Balance, BedMobility, and Dexerity in People With Parkinson Disease: A Case Series. Phys Ther. 2014 Feb 20.
  5. Millage B, Vesey E, Finkelstein M, Anheluk M. Effect on Gait Speed, Balance, Motor Symptom Rating, andQuality of Life in Those with Stage 1 Parkinson’s Disease Utilizing LSVT BIG. Hindawi. 2017;(8).