The following blog was written by our Speech and Language Therapist, Emer Foley. Emer is trained in the use of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) and is experienced in managing communication disorders associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder which is caused when the cells in the brain stop producing enough dopamine – a chemical messenger or ‘neurotransmitter’, which is used by the brain to control movement. It is a progressive disorder – meaning that the symptoms usually get worse over time.
Communication in Parkinson’s Disease
As Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder, it can often disrupt the specific movements involved in speech, leading to difficulties communicating. The degree of these problems can vary greatly from person to person. However, by far the most commonly reported problem is a quiet voice or being unable to speak loudly. Another frequent issue is being unable to keep control of the rate of speech while talking – speech becomes faster and faster until it loses its clarity.
These communication problems are not only upsetting for the person with PD and the people around them, but may cause them to lose confidence or withdraw from conversation, and lead to social isolation.
What can be done for Parkinson’s Disease: LSVT?
Fortunately, there are treatments specifically designed for targeting the speech difficulties associated with Parkinson’s disease, such as LSVT and there is strong evidence that they are effective. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to give you advice on the best way to target your communication difficulties.
LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) is one of the most well known programmes for individuals with Parkinson disease. Over a number of years, research has shown that this approach has been successful in improving in the speech abilities of individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
With LSVT, the focus is on vocal exercises and teaching the person with Parkinson’s to monitor their own voicing loudness and quality. The increased self-awareness is a key element of the success of the therapy – it means the individual is more likely to keep their loud voice in the future.