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Parkinson's Disease

Department of Rehabilitation 

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease (PD) usually affects the elderly. It is caused by impaired functioning in the part of the brain that controls normal movement. "Automatic" movements such as walking and speaking can become stiff, awkward and difficult to coordinate. As a result people with PD may move slowly, have poor balance and may experience speech and voice difficulties. Researchers report that 60-90% of people with PD experience some difficulty with speaking. The severity of this speech difficulty may vary from person to person.

Parkinson's disease produces changes throughout the body and the voice and speech mechanism. People with PD often notice is that their voice has become quieter. They are frequently asked to repeat themselves because listeners do not understand what they said. This leads to embarrassment, frustration and can result in misunderstandings and withdrawal from social activities.

Early intervention by a speech - language therapist is key in the treatment of hypokinetic dysarthria in patients with PD. Treatment methods are based on extensive research and have been proven to have positive long term effects on voice, speech and even swallowing difficulties experienced by people with PD. Speech-language therapists usually develop an intensive exercise routine, repeated several times daily, to keep the voice as loud as possible and to maintain clarity of speech.

Individuals with Parkinson's Disease (PD) commonly have the following voice and speech symptoms:

  • Soft voice
  • Hoarse voice quality
  • Slurred or mumbled speech
  • Monotonous speech

Our speech therapists are certified to conduct Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT). This is a proven and effective treatment programme administered by certified speech therapists to improve speech in individuals with PD. It has been shown to improve voice loudness, improve speech intelligibility, enhance facial expression and improve swallowing ability.