Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that primarily affects the muscles of the body. Approximately one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease (PD).  The muscles of speech can be affected also and this may affect speech and cause difficulty communicating.

PD may cause:

·     Softer/breathier voice that is harder to hear

·     Slurred speech

·     Mumbled speech

·     Monotone voice

·     Difficulty keeping up in conversations

·     Reduced speech rate

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help evaluate and treat speech difficulties that can be present in PD. One program that has been found to be particularly effective in improving speech for individuals with PD or neurological conditions is the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT). This program has been scientifically studied for close to 20 years with research supporting improvements in:

·     Vocal loudness

·     Intonation

·     Voice quality

·     Articulation

·     Facial expression

·     Swallowing

The LSVT program focuses on the single goal of speaking “LOUD” through a systematic hierarchy of exercises. Optimal results are obtained by participants attending structured, intensive Speech therapy sessions over a month long period (four individual 1-hour sessions per week; total of 16 sessions). Participants in the program learn to:

·     Produce a healthy louder voice without strain

·     Recognize that their voice is normally too soft

·     Develop comfort with a new louder voice

For more information on LSVT and PD, please visit the sites referenced in this article below:

North Country Hospital Rehabilitation Services – Speech has therapists who are certified in LSVT LOUD.  If you wish more information about how NCH SLPs can help you or your loved one, please call 802-334-3270.

Gabby Barnard is a speech-language pathologist at North Country Hospital. She works with patients of all ages in a variety of settings (e.g. outpatient, inpatient, school). Gabby is also an LSVT LOUD certified clinician. She is native to the area and enjoys residing/working in a rural, close knit community.