Parkinson’s Patients Can Speak With ‘Intent’ at Hackensack Meridian

PVP individual and group exercises are aimed at making speech a 'deliberate act'

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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A speech therapist works with a Parkinson's patient.

Two clinically-proven speech therapy programs tailored to Parkinson’s disease patients, SPEAK OUT! and The LOUD Crowd, are now available at the Hackensack Meridian Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Ocean University Medical Center, New Jersey.

Both programs, developed by the nonprofit Parkinson Voice Project, are designed to help patients “speak with intent” by combining individual and group therapy sessions with educational tools, daily home practice, and regular re-evaluations of patients’ progress.

“We are excited to bring this program to Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Ocean University Medical Center,” Sara Cuccurullo, MD, chair, medical director, vice president, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said in a press release.

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Speech disorders — including dysarthria, or difficulty speaking — that often lead to problems swallowing, are common in Parkinson’s, affecting up to 90% of those with the condition. Patients often have a reduced voice intensity, problems articulating words, are hoarse, and have a monotonous pitch. Despite its high prevalence, only a small fraction of patients with voice changes take part in speech therapy.

“Up to 90% of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and swallowing complications account for 70% of the mortality rate in this patient population” according to Samantha Elandary, the founder of Parkinson Voice Project.

Combining educational tools with individually tailored speech exercises led by a speech language expert, SPEAK OUT! addresses the motor speech issues related to Parkinson’s. The goal of “speaking with intent” is achieved by switching speech from an automatic function to a deliberate act. Since speech muscles are also used for swallowing, it too is improved.

After completing their individual therapy sessions in SPEAK OUT!, patients can join the LOUD Crowd, a voice maintenance program that’s also led by a certified speech language expert. As part of this program, patients practice speaking in weekly group sessions. The program is designed to foster camaraderie and provide support and encouragement.

SPEAK OUT! sessions must be scheduled in advance. The LOUD Crowd group sessions are weekly. Patients who want to participate can obtain further information by calling 732-836-4549/4544. An appointment can be scheduled by calling the medical outpatient center at 732-836-4640.