As part of my work as a speech pathologist here in Sydney, I often go to Parkinson’s disease support group meetings to let people know about the rehabilitation options available for speech and voice difficulties associated with Parkinson’s disease. In these groups (which I highly recommend) there is usually a great discussion about an individual’s personal experiences with Parkinson’s disease and communication. It is often a topic that is not talked about much, so people tend to be keen to ask questions and receive advice.
Speech problems due to Parkinson’s disease
Common statements I hear from people with Parkinson’s disease or their loved ones are:
“We used to go out a lot. We still do, but I just listen now and don’t talk”
“Everyone keeps asking me to speak up!”
“I have things to say, but can’t break into the conversation. My wife tells me I talk too softly”.
“I just can’t hear her as well”
In some of our recent discussions across the Eastern suburbs and North Shore of Sydney, common questions that are asked are: “How is communication affected?” and “What can we do?”
1) How is communication affected in Parkinson’s disease?
- 89% of people with Parkinson’s disease have difficulties with voice and speech (Ramig, Fox & Sapir, 2008).
- Speech is affected due to neurological injury to the motor speech system.
- Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder characterised by changes to the subsystems of speech affecting respiration, resonance, prosody, phonation and articulation (Colton & Caspar, 1996).
- Dysarthria results in abnormalities in strength, speed, range, tone or accuracy of speech movements (Duffy, 2005).
- Speech is characterised by slow individual movements, reduced pitch and loudness, as well as reduced force and excessive tone (Duffy, 2005). Paradoxically, speech can also become fast, accelerated and repetitive.
2) What can we do?
Lee Silverman Voice Treatment or LSVT LOUD® is currently the gold standard approach used in the treatment and management of speech difficulties associated with Parkinson’s disease. You can read all about here LSVT loud.
About LSVT LOUD® for Parkinson’s disease
As an LSVT® trained clinician and having completed the LSVT® program with numerous patients, here are a few of my personal reasons why I advocate this program:
- It is a research based program (i.e. there is evidence that the program improves communication)
- Therapy activities are personalised. The program is completed in a one-on-one environment that allows you to incorporate your own hobbies, interests and needs into the daily therapy tasks.
- It is a lot like going to the gym. You get into a routine, work hard and then it gets easier.
- It’s all about you. Where possible, therapy is done with just you and your therapist.
- The therapy aims to empower you to evaluate your own speech and voice and make the necessary adjustments.
- The improvements in speech and voice flow across all communication environments such as ordering coffee, meetings at work, chatting on the phone or meeting with friends for lunch.
- Therapy is based around a single, easy to remember concept.
If you have questions about the program, or would like to see if the program would suit you, please feel free to contact our clinic on 1300 123 368.
All Speech Pathologists delivering LSVT LOUD® must have completed the certified training. Our speech pathologist Jenna Butterworth is certified to deliver LSVT. See www.lsvtglobal.com for verification.
For more information about LSVT LOUD® for Parkinson’s disease or to book an appointment please call our clinic on 1300 123 368. Jenna will also be guest speaking at a number of Sydney based Parkinson disease support groups in the coming months. Ask us for details if you would like to attend.