Parkinson’s disease affects not only movement but also muscles in the face, mouth and throat that are used to speak. This may cause a person’s voice to change, as well as dysarthria, or difficulty in speaking, and dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing. Speech may become slurred, mumbled or rapid, and the voice softer. For some, it may be difficult to breathe, find words or participate in fast-paced conversations.
These problems may be referred to a speech and language therapist who is trained in all forms of communication, including non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or body language. Such therapists can teach techniques and offer tips for better communication.
It is important to begin speech therapy as soon as possible and continue it on a regular basis.
Speech Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
The speech therapy program will be different at different stages of Parkinson’s. In the disease’s early stages, patients learn strategies and exercises to help with voice volume, speed of speech, breathing, facial expressions and clear pronunciation of words. Therapists can give some tips on speaking in noisy environments as well as problems associated with eating and drinking.
As the disease progresses and communication becomes difficult, therapists can offer advice on ways to cope with it. Some examples include the use of assistive devices like computers or voice amplifiers, making eye contact while speaking, or planning activities when patients feel at their best.
Lee Silverman voice technique (LSVT)
LSVT is a speech treatment that has been proven to significantly improve speech after one month. Results can last up to two years following treatment. The LSVT method is easy to learn and must be repeated four days a week for four consecutive weeks to be effective. After a four-week treatment period, LSVT exercises should be done daily to maintain the improvements achieved.
Speech therapy also includes non-verbal communication skills to help patients communicate without spoken words, by making use of expressions and gestures. Non-verbal communication can help by reducing the stress of not being able to communicate and alleviating the pressure to speak, thereby relaxing patients.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.