April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease which impacts the brain’s motor neurons and ability to make smooth and controlled voluntary movements.
Common symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
- Slowness of movement
- Difficulty swallowing
- Reduced facial expressions
Parkinson’s can also impact an individual’s speech and voice. Common speech/voice symptoms include:
- Quiet voice
- Breathy voice
- Monotone speaking
- Mumbled and imprecise speech
- Rapid bursts of speech
Individuals with Parkinson’s who are experiencing speech and voice changes may be referred to work with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Speech therapy may include training of speaking and communication strategies (such as over-articulating consonants or pacing), trialing use of alternative modes of communication or equipment (such as a portable amplifier), or voice therapy.
Voice Therapy for Parkinson’s
Voice therapy is a well-supported and effective treatment for individuals with voice and speech changes related to Parkinson’s. Two evidence-based treatment programs targeting improved voice and speech for individuals with Parkinson’s are Lee-Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD®) and Parkinson Voice Project SPEAK OUT!®. LSVT LOUD® is an intensive treatment consisting of 16 sessions over 4 weeks and focusing on helping people with Parkinson’s to “think loud”. Research has shown that LSVT LOUD® results in improved vocal loudness, speech intelligibility, intonation, and facial expression. SPEAK OUT!® is a treatment program typically consisting of 12 sessions followed by ongoing group sessions which emphasizes “speaking with intent” and converts speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. Research has shown that completion of the SPEAK OUT!® program results in improved quality of life and perception of one’s voice, as well as increased vocal loudness in conversation.
If Parkinson’s Disease is impacting you or your loved one’s speech and voice, consider reaching out to your physician or a speech-language pathologist to discuss potential treatment options. SLPs at the NGHS Rehabilitation Center are certified and trained to provide skilled treatment for individuals with Parkinson’s, including LSVT LOUD® and SPEAK OUT!® services.
Visit the Rehabilitation Institute at www.nghs.com/rehabilitation-services to learn more about our outpatient Speech Therapy services. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from Speech Therapy, call 770-219-8200.