Current research indicates that 70-90% percent of people with PD will experience changes in speech and voice at some time during the course of the disease. Changes in speech and voice can include reduced volume, hoarse vocal quality, flat/monotone voice, imprecise articulation with slurred/mumbled speech, and vocal tremor. However, it is frequently noted that the person with PD is not aware of these changes.
As a result, speech intelligibility may be reduced, so friends and family may be the first to notice these symptoms. If you are an individual who has been diagnosed with PD, you may notice that people are asking you to repeat yourself more frequently, you may have a hard time being heard in noisy environments, and may eventually start feeling left out of conversations.
Treatment methods for these speech disturbances include: speech therapy, pharmacological intervention, and surgical procedures. Studies have proven that speech therapy is the most effective treatment method for improving voice and speech function.
Specifically, the benefits of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) program have been noted in many research studies for significantly improving the voice quality in patients with PD. This intensive treatment program emphasizes “loud” speech (which in turn improves respiratory support and articulation) and is most effective if therapy sessions are provided 4 days a week, for 4 consecutive weeks.