Some things we know about Parkinson’s disease:

  • Nearly 1 million people are potentially living with Parkinson’s disease in the United States
  • Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than women
  • The prevalence of Parkinson’s is increasing
  • Some believe it could be due to lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors, and others think it is better diagnosed than in the past
  • Some sources estimate the cost of Parkinson’s to be nearly $52 billion per year in the United States alone
  • Medications and treatments can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000 a year

Parkinson’s Disease, Symptoms, Treatment Options

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the dopamine receptor neurons in the brain. The most common and easily noticed Parkinson’s symptoms are slowed movements and tremors that limit mobility early on. Other common symptoms of Parkinson’s include rigid muscles, stiffness, impaired posture or balance, loss of automatic movements, and speech and writing changes.

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease yet, there are many promising treatments available that can improve movement and prolong function. I won’t go into the drug and surgical procedures, as a neurologist is better able to provide that information, but a great movement treatment approach is LSVT BIG.


LSVT BIG is a personalized treatment program that helps train patients to increase the size of their movements from head to toe. People living with Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions often move differently – their gestures and movements become smaller and slower. The LSVT BIG program helps to recalibrate how they perceive their movements, so their movements return to more normal, like those around them.

LSVT BIG is a 1-month program that consists of 4 sessions per week for four consecutive weeks. Each hour session works through a specific set of exercises, functional exercises that are individualized for each patient, and then homework and carryover exercises performed at home to continue to work on increasing the size of the movements. Research shows that the program effectively recalibrates movement size and speed and allows the person to retain function and independence.

LSVT BIG exercise program can be used throughout the disease progression. Early detection and treatment have shown great promise. Patients who proactively work on BIG exercises can remain independent longer. Even in late disease treatment of Parkinson’s disease, BIG exercises, and training help retain function and independence while decreasing falls and other difficulties.

If you have more questions about an LSVT BIG program, please contact Freedom at any of the four locations. Find a certified therapist here.

Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
Molly Rittberg received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to receive her doctorate from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago) in 2009. She has since worked in an outpatient orthopedic practice where she worked with patients of all ages, injuries and disabilities. She has a wide variety of experiences including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, post-operative conditions, spinal rehabilitation and peripheral neuropathies.