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St. Francis Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine helps maintain mobility for patients with Parkinson’s via Lee Silverman Voice Treatment®- Big Program

Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and experiencing interference with their day-to-day movements may greatly benefit from Lee Silverman Voice Therapy®- Big (LSVT-Big). LSVT-Big is a nationally recognized rehabilitation therapy program that is proven to help people with Parkinson’s Disease improve upon the disease’s impact on their walking, balance and other activities of daily living, such as writing or dressing.

This customized outpatient rehabilitation therapy program is performed one-on-one with a physical or occupational therapist and can only be provided by an LSVT-Big Certified Clinician as part of prescribed physical or occupational therapy. The LSVT-Big therapy program is offered by St. Francis Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine provider, Katie Norgard, OTR/L, an occupational therapist with the department.

“Over time, Parkinson’s Disease can cause a person to move differently, where their gestures and actions begin to get slower and less defined,” explains Norgard. “LSVT- Big sessions train a patient how and when to adjust their movements, teaching them to apply extra effort to produce ‘bigger’ and more exaggerated motions, rather than the smaller motions caused by the disease’s progress,” she says. The therapy can have multiple benefits, as learning to amplify one’s gross motor skill motions can also benefit fine motor skill tasks, like buttoning a shirt.

The “exercises” and therapy program are tailored to each patient’s abilities, so the personalized treatment helps a patient work towards their own individual goals. Though the program is beneficial at any stage of disease progression, starting LSVT-Big therapy before experiencing significant problems with balance and mobility can often heave the best results. However, at nearly every stage, the LSVT-Big program produces significantly improved outcomes for anyone facing considerable physical difficulties as their disease progresses.

What to expect from LSVT – Big

An LSVT-Big-certified physical or occupational therapist from St. Francis’ Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine team will guide you through tailored exercises to improve your gross motor skills, such as walking and balance, and your fine motor skills, such as writing. Research search shows improvement in a person’s balance, walking, movement and daily living tasks from this intensive, effective therapy treatment, with many patients’ improvements lasting one to two years. LSVT-Big therapy sessions can also positively affect non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, including emotional and cognitive changes.

Additional diagnoses

Although the LSVT - Big program was designed for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, it has been shown to be beneficial in the rehabilitation of individuals with other neuromuscular disorders such as stroke, normal pressure hydrocephalus, brain injury and multiple sclerosis.

Tom’s story

Tom, an 85-year-old patient at St. Francis Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine with Parkinson’s Disease, recently completed the LSVT-Big program with Norgard at the department’s Shakopee location.

According to Tom, the program has been both inspiring and productive. “Inspiring because the program has given me confidence in how to cope with future difficulties, and productive because my physical condition has improved dramatically,” he explains.

Tom describes the impact of the program in his own words:

“Before I began therapy, my balance and strength had deteriorated to the point that I had fallen four times in six months, twice with injuries. I used a walker because I drifted badly. I became frustrated and depressed.

All this began to change when I started therapy. Katie, my therapist, guided me through the initial week of exercises. My strength and balance improved, and as it did, Katie designed more creative exercises to improve my condition. Now, the exercises have become easier and are part of my daily routine. My walking and balance have improved, and I no longer need to use a walker.

I am grateful to Katie, who encouraged me to work harder, perfect my exercises and find a positive attitude.

The program has improved my life.”

Pictured: Tom working on his favorite LSVT-Big exercise, the "Forward Rock and Reach" or, as Tom calls it, the "Rock and Roll,” which works on weight shifting with an amplified arm swing to help improve balance and walking.

Learn more

To learn more about St. Francis Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine or the certified LSVT-Big program, visit