Speech Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
Pam Ahlman, Speech Language Pathologist, Banner Baywood Medical Center
Question: I have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and my speaking voice seems to have become much softer. Many people can not understand me. Is there anyone who can help me be understood?
Answer: Yes. There is a proven effective speech treatment program that improves communication in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. It is called Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT). This program centers on increased vocal loudness. Observations by patients, family members and professionals confirm that patients are more effective and emotionally engaged communicators after receiving this treatment. The program is four times a week for one month. Treatment exercises are intense and the program involves daily home drills.
The target is increased vocal loudness obtained through:
- Specific exercises that stress maximum duration of vowel phonation,
- Improvement of frequency range through stimulation of production of high and low pitches, and
- Assisting the patient in carryover and maintenance of a louder voice into daily communication.
Patients are encouraged to “feel the effort” used in drills and apply this effort in everyday speaking as well as to continue daily exercises following the treatment to maintain gains.
If this is a speech problem you face, I recommend having your physician evaluate you to be considered for this treatment program.