On September 8, I started what I’m calling “PT Boot Camp” in a concentrated effort to get rid of my tippy posture. I have been fighting this leaning posture since at least 2017. (See photos.) Posture issues are not uncommon among Parkies; mine even has a real medical name – my neurologist refers to it as the “Pisa Syndrome” (get it?). I no longer have a mental image of what is “straight”. In both of these pictures, I thought I was standing up straight.
The “Boot Camp” is the LSVT BIG program, an hour a day, 4 days a week for 4 weeks, plus homework. What is LSVT BIG? The acronym has become somewhat meaningless. It stands for Lee Silverman Vocal Training. Lee Silverman was not the inventor of the technique, but rather the first patient. And the reference to vocal training refers to the original program (LSVT LOUD) for increasing the volume of soft Parkinson’s voices. Both movement and voices tend to get smaller (“bradykinesia”) for Parkies.
LSVT BIG consists of a standard set of exercises, plus the therapist develops customized exercises to address specific tasks that you identify as your problem areas. In my case, standing up straight is the biggie, with some others like standing at the kitchen counter doing meal prep, rolling over in bed, getting out of a car, etc.
I am now through the first week, and do the exercises twice a day. (I suspect I will get a few more exercises.) The rationale for the constant repetition over four weeks is to take advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity to create new movement patterns. The exercises are deceptively simple although I still have to consult the cheat sheet to do the exercises. There is an emphasis on what I would call “cheerleading” the exercises – shouting out the count, doing them with a lot of energy, using, well, BIG movements.
What’s the results? Back seems generally less painful. However, as I type this, despite my best efforts, I am constantly being tugged to the left as if by a powerful whirlpool. The biggest impacts so far have been to my wrist (from clenching the steering wheel as I drive the 25-mile round trip to the clinic every day) and my wallet ($40 copay each day – ouch). But, kvetching aside, I am hopeful this program will help make a difference in my posture.
YouTube extra: Might as well get warmed up for cheerleading my exercises by watching the 24-time national champions, the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Here they are in 2019.