Update on BIG for Life, LOUD for Life Pilot Program
Written by
Sandy Kempa

The Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson's approach is based on impact through teamwork and collaboration. Empowering teamwork in the community between caregivers, individuals with Parkinson's Disease (PD), therapists and loved ones is core to our mission.

In June 2018, we talked about two critical members of Kirk's team, Kerri and Lea (pictured with Kirk). At that time, we highlighted the Foundation's contribution to expanding the BIG for Life, LOUD for Life program supported by Kerri and Lea through Foundation partner, Spectrum Health. The program is based on the    Lee Silverman Voice Treatments (LSVT) model, an innovative and clinically-proven method for improving communication and movement in individuals with Parkinson disease. Prior to the Foundation's involvement, continuity following participation in the program was not available and many participants were losing the gains they had made during active treatment. In conjunction with Spectrum, the Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson's intervened to provide funding for a "graduate" program that creates community and provides motivation for participants to continue the lessons learned in BIG and LOUD. We're very happy to report that the Foundation's investment in this program has had considerable impact and is poised for future expansion!

Here are some quotes from participants in the BIG for Life, LOUD for Life pilot:

“It gives me hope that I can keep doing something to fight PD.”

“It helps to know I’m not the only one out there with PD.”

“I like seeing how other people are doing their program—it gives me some ideas for things I can do too.”

“The groups are fabulous! I go out feeling better than when I came in.”

Relationships and connections are forming within the group along with spouses and family members of the group members. This graduate group provides another link in the chain of living well with PD, with caregivers noting how nice it is to have someone understand what it is like to have a loved one with PD.

Our team member, Spectrum Health, has carefully monitored the funds you’ve entrusted to them and have poured their time and energy into planning and implementing the pilot program. Based on our success in the last half of 2018, the pilot program likely will:

  • Expand the program from bi-weekly to weekly
  • Train two additional therapists to provide opportunity to have four groups (doubling the impact)
  • Purchase three software and microphone packages for a patient to take home for a limited time to practice their speech volume and articulation      
  • Offer a class for people with Young-Onset PD to accommodate working adults. It would be huge to keep them employed and feeling successful.
  • Add an additional site at the Spectrum Health Hospital in Fremont, Michigan