Every now and then, I come across someone else’s local news article about something called LSVT-BIG. Here is one of them; it’s from Great Falls in Montana, USA.
The articles are almost exclusively from local North American papers, offering a “human interest” style story in which the new(ish) physical therapy (it was introduced in 2007) helps someone with Parkinson’s. The press seem to like mentioning the programme’s relation to the voice therapy LSVT-LOUD (which was developed first), but few actually expound on what LSVT stands for. Now, maybe I’m just strange, but I like to know what my acronyms mean. This one is Lee Silverman Voice Therapy. It’s a commercial thing – you have to pay for the therapy, and the practitioner will have paid LSVT Global for his or her training. So I don’t think it’ll be available on the NHS any time soon. (There are practitioners in the UK, but none of them are especially close to me.)
What is it? The Web site says:
[…] the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) [is] an innovative and clinically-proven method for improving voice and speech in individuals with Parkinson disease. […] LSVT Global specializes in the development of innovative and effective treatments for the speech communication (LSVT LOUD) and physical/occupational therapy (LSVT BIG) needs of individuals with Parkinson disease as well as aging and other conditions including stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome.
The general idea seems to be that you deliberately exaggerate the size of your movements or the volume of your voice in order to make up for the smallness that Parkinson’s tends to impose upon you. Which seems to make sense. In fact, I’ve been attempting to exaggerate the swing in my left arm for just that reason (sometimes, if I make a really big swing to get it started, it’ll go by itself for a while as I walk).
I suppose that these therapies – and it’s the BIG one that I am most intrigued by, because my voice is as yet unaffected – are formalised versions of the physiotherapy and speech therapy offered elsewhere. The concept of BIG seems to link nicely with the idea that lots of cardiovascular exercise will help to counter the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It also seems to be a sort of retraining of the body’s actions and reactions – something that we’ve seen in the use of ballet and tai-chi, discussed in previous posts.
I couldn’t help but wonder who Lee Silverman is or was. I’m rather disappointed not to be able to find out anything about him or her. The LSVT Global site says that the therapies were invented by the founders of the company, none of whom are called Silverman. Or Lee.
I wonder whether any of my readers has any experience with LSVT?