Speech Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease: April 8, 2019
It can cause frustration, depression, even isolation.
“It’s quite a shock and really confusing for a lot of people,” said Courtney Welch, a speech-language pathologist with Lee Health.
It’s a common symptom caused by Parkinson ’s disease. “Almost 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s end up having some sort of voice or speech concerns,” she said.
Speech and voice changes can happen at any time of the diagnosis. “Often the volume control; they get really soft with their voice so they can’t be heard. Sometimes there are cognitive issues so they are a little slower to think so maybe they can’t find that word they want to say,” said Welch.
Speech therapy works with patients on maintaining their volume, as well as cognitive changes caused by the disease—things like memory problems, word finding, and attention. “With the volume, a lot of times they feel like they are shouting. People with Parkinson’s have trouble monitoring their own senses, so they feel like they are shouting when a lot of times their volume is too soft,” said Welch.
Working with a speech therapist in the early stages of the diagnosis can help patients manage their symptoms. “You want to be able to maintain a good strong voice and good clear speech for as long as you can, and daily practice is the biggest part of that,” she said.
Speech therapy teaches patients and their loved ones cues to improve their volume—making them aware of when their voice becomes too soft. Daily exercises that can keep patients social and heard.