Living with Parkinson’s — BIG and LOUD

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RAPID CITY, S.D. — Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting nearly a million people in the United States. In most cases it begins presenting in people when they are around 60 years old, and symptoms gradually worsen over time. All treatment options work to slow the progression and improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and Rapid City now has new options for treating Parkinson’s patients in the area.

Macie Harris, DPT at Sundog Rehabilitation, decided to specialize in treating Parkinson’s after noticing a lack of physical therapy options in the Black Hills region. She has been certified in LSVT BIG therapy, which can only be found in two other locations in the Black Hills.

The LSVT has been studied for over 25 years to help Parkinson’s patients. Since LSVT was originally developed, it has split into two branches – LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD. As a certified LSVT BIG therapist Harris focuses on treating a patient’s physical movements, whether that be simple household chores or enjoying their old hobbies.

“For some, they simply want to be able to button up a shirt better, move around the house, or even get back to the golf course – it’s a huge variety of goals we can work toward,” Harris says.

Parkinson’s can result in several motor effects including stiffness, slowed movement, balance and coordination difficulties, and trouble eating and drinking.

“Oftentimes with Parkinson’s a patient’s movements and speech becomes smaller,” Harris says. “The LSVT BIG program trains patients to think big again and recalibrates those movements so the patient understands the amount of effort they need to put forward to move big, when it actually is just moving normally again.”

Because Parkinson’s Disease affects each patient differently, each treatment plan is different. “The first day is our evaluation,” Harris says, “we spend a lot of time talking about what is most important to the patient, because that is what will ultimately motivate them to keep going and getting better.”

During the evaluation, a patient may decide that participating in both physical therapy and speech therapy would be beneficial, and Sundog Rehabilitation has that option in house as well. Sundog’s LSVT LOUD certified speech language pathologist focuses on speech, memory and cognition, and helps patients improve their communication, thinking and swallowing.

“We’ve learned that patients who only take part in the LSVT BIG program see improvements in speech and cognition, just from practicing the physical movements – there’s definitely carryover between the two.”

You can learn more about the BIG and LOUD programs and other therapeutic options offered at Sundog Rehabilitation by calling 605-787-2719 or visiting them online at

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