“Research, research, research,” Ken Adkins repeated this over and over again.
But it was just that, research, that put Ken on the right track to save his mobility, and ultimately, his life, following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Through his research, Ken discovered LSVT BIG therapy at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness.
Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s perception of how he or she is moving. This leads to slower movements (bradykinesia) and smaller movements (hypokinesia). Parkinson’s also affects the start and stop signals of movement. Therefore, sometimes people have difficulty initiating or stopping movements. All of this leads to decreased safety with mobility and often leads to falls. People with Parkinson’s may have trouble with moving through their homes or community, getting dressed, cooking, cleaning, performing work tasks and fulfilling hobbies.
“The diagnosis was hard to take in. I didn’t know what my next steps were or how to combat this disease. My doctor didn’t give me much advice or information other than my diagnosis. I decided I needed to take my diagnosis into my own hands,” said Ken.
Soon after his diagnosis, Ken began getting cramps in his hands, hand tremors and he struggled to hold utensils when eating. It was also becoming harder to do activities he loved, like putting together 3D wooden puzzles. During the early stages of his diagnosis, Ken realized he needed an exercise plan to maintain his mobility and movements.
“I was never really physical before my diagnosis,” Ken said with a chuckle. “My wife and I started doing Rock Steady Boxing to stay active and use every part of my body in a single workout.”
The exercise helped him regain more movement and his hand tremors had started to decrease. However, once Ken started seeing progress, COVID-19 was on the rise in Indiana and businesses began to close. Ken felt stuck. Despite his classes being cancelled, Ken knew he needed to continue exercising.
“I set up some equipment in my basement. But without a coach or instructor, it was hard to stay motivated and get my exercise in every day,” Ken said. “I started to see the disease taking over my body and my hand tremors got worse.”
Following a shoulder injury in the summer of 2020, Ken started therapy at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness. There he saw therapists performing the LSVT BIG therapy with Parkinson’s patients.
“I had done a lot of research on exercise and therapy for Parkinson’s disease. I had come across LSVT BIG therapy during my research in the early stage of my diagnosis. But I couldn’t find a therapist that was certified in LSVT BIG. That was until I saw a therapist at Riverview Health performing the therapy,” said Ken.
With four LSVT BIG certified therapists, Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness is one of the only outpatient clinics to offer LSVT BIG in Hamilton County.
“LSVT BIG targets the sensory impairment associated with Parkinson’s. Patients with Parkinson’s perceive small movements as normal. LSVT BIG focuses on recalibrating this perception with the goal of producing bigger, more typical movements,” said Christie Geisz, doctor of physical therapy (DPT). “Ken was having difficulty with endurance and fatigue, moving more slowly, small handwriting and difficulty using utensils. Ken was also moving slowly with multi-tasking activities such as walking and carrying or walking and talking.”
“Each exercise I did in LSVT BIG therapy was oriented toward something I would do on a regular basis, but the motions were a lot bigger than what I would normally do. The therapy may even seem childish, but by doing this, it immensely slowed the progression of the disease for me,” said Ken.
The LSVT BIG program is intensive, spanning four days a week for four weeks. Patients are asked to give maximum effort in a high-intensity and high-frequency treatment program. Exercises target a patient’s strength, balance, endurance and gait. LSVT BIG is customized to each person’s needs and goals.
“Ken showed significant improvements in all areas. He had perfect balance scores by the end of therapy. He was able to multi-task with minimal difficulty. He was able to keep up with his young active grandkids and participate in activities with them such as going to Topgolf and playing soccer with them,” said Christie.
After his therapy ended, Ken has continued performing the exercises he learned through LSVT BIG.
“I have never seen such a well-oiled machine as Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness,” said Ken. I would recommend LSVT BIG at Riverview Health to all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”
To find out more about LSVT BIG visit https://riverview.org/services/rehabilitation/outpatient-rehab/ or call Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness at 317.776.7225.