Speech Programs for People with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can affect speech in several ways. Many people with PD speak quietly and in one tone, so they don’t convey much emotion. Sometimes speech sounds breathy or hoarse. People with Parkinson’s might slur words, mumble or trail off at the end of a sentence. Most people talk slowly, but some speak rapidly, even stuttering or stammering.

Parkinson’s motor symptoms, such as decreased facial expression, slowness and stooped posture, may add to speech problems. These can send incorrect non-verbal cues or impact the ability to show emotion. Parkinson’s non-motor symptoms, such as memory or thinking (cognitive) problems also can affect speech. Cognitive problems, for example, may lead to difficulty finding the right words and slower speech.

Speech problems can make it difficult to communicate with family, friends and physicians. They also can interfere with a job (if you often give presentations, for example) and limit social interactions.

This week a segment featured on Nine News highlighting a new speech program that is having a game-changing effect for people living with Parkinson’s.

The programs featured in this segment are called SPEAK OUT and LOUD which uses individual therapy followed by group sessions to improve voice intensity and articulation through a range of exercises. Colleen Kerr is a speech pathologist at Optimal Speech Pathology and describes the program as a game-changer for people living with Parkinson’s.

In Australia one of the barriers to a speech pathologist is cost, medicare only cover 5 sessions per year but there is now a push to have this included in the National Disability Scheme. 

To find a provider of these programs in Australia visit the Parkinson’s Voice Project website.