Training BIG to move faster: the application of the speed-amplitude relation as a rehabilitation strategy for people with Parkinson's disease

Exp Brain Res. 2005 Dec;167(3):462-7. doi: 10.1007/s00221-005-0179-7. Epub 2005 Nov 11.


We have used the phenomenon that speed increases with movement amplitude as a rehabilitation strategy. We tested the hypothesis that the generalized training of amplitude in the limb motor system may reduce bradykinesia and hypokinesia in the upper and lower limbs in subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) across disease severity (Stage I, n=6; Stage II, n=7; Stage III, n=5). While studies have separately examined the relationship of amplitude to speed in reaching and gait, the same study has not reported the relationship for both limb systems. Moreover, the rehabilitation intervention, Training BIG, is unique in that it applies well-established treatment concepts from a proven treatment for the speech motor system in PD [Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT)] to the limb motor system. Subjects (n=18) participated in intense practice (1-h sessions/4x week/4 weeks) of large amplitude movements involving the whole body (i.e., head, arm, trunk, and leg) while focusing on the sensory awareness of "movement bigness." Testing procedures were designed to demonstrate the transfer of generalized amplitude practice to speed improvements during functional "untrained" tasks in "uncued" conditions with blinded testers. After therapy, the subjects significantly increased their speed of reaching and gait for the preferred speed condition. This effect was greater when the severity of the disease was less. The results support further application and efficacy studies of Training BIG. Amplitude-based behavioral intervention in people with PD appears to be a simple target that may be applied in different contexts for multiple tasks and results in improved speed-amplitude scaling relations across the upper and lower limbs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arm / physiology
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Thorax / physiology
  • Walking / physiology