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How Does Parkinson’s Affect Speech

What Is Parkinsons Disease

2 – Speech problems and Parkinson’s disease

At the most basic level,;Parkinsons Disease ;is a disorder of the nervous system. PD causes vital nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate, significantly decreasing the bodys stores of dopamine;and other essential neuro-chemicals responsible for controlling movement.

This results in the tremors that are classically associated with PD.

Tremors, however, are only one of the varied and unpredictable symptoms of PD.

Persons with PD may also experience muscle rigidity or weakness. Movement may be slowed and problems with balance and coordination are common.

Additionally, PD can lead to challenges in thinking, concentrating, or remembering. Patients may even experience hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia as a result of changes in the brain.

Its estimated that more than;10 million people;worldwide have PD, with more than 95% of patients diagnosed after the age of 50.

What Is Happening To The Body

Parkinsons mainly affects a part of the brain called the substantia nigra pars compacta. In this part of the brain, neurons are producing dopamine, which transmits signals to other parts of the brain. When Parkinsons occurs these neurons are damaged which reduces the amount of dopamine produced. The decrease in dopamine is causing the movements to be slower and less smooth. These side effects are seen in the movement of the face and mouth muscles, which is how speech is produced.

How Are Speech Problems Treated

There are many options to help improve your speech. A speech-language pathologist can help you pick the right approaches for you. Speech-language pathologists are trained health care professionals who specialize in evaluating and treating people with speech, swallowing, voice, and language problems.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a speech-language pathologist. It is also important to contact your health insurance company to find out what therapy and procedures are eligible for reimbursement and to find a list of SLPs covered by your plan. Finally, visit a SLP who has experience treating people with PD.

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It Is Common To See Singing And Choir Programs For People With Pd What Are Your Thoughts On This Type Of Activity

There is still much to learn about how singing impacts the communication of people with PD. At this point in time, when asked, I tell people that we dont have enough evidence to say that singing can be used as a substitute for skilled speech-language pathology services. Given that there are such excellent, evidence-based treatments that specifically target the communication problems that people with PD experience, I advise people to pursue SLP services early and as often as needed, and view singing/choir experiences as a wonderful supplement to what they learn in therapy. Occasionally, people with PD can have voice difficulties that affect how they should use their voice during singing, so it is best to consult the expert first. This is much the same as seeing a physician and physical therapist before you launch into a new exercise program. Singing is a wonderful way for people with PD to use their new voices that have been rehabilitated in therapy. It also promotes social engagement and offers opportunities to communicate and be cognitively stimulated. It is a wonderful mood booster to combat the depression and apathy that can sometimes occur with PD.

Speech Problems Of Parkinsons Disease


The most common speech problems experienced by people with PD involve reduced volume , reduced pitch range , and difficulty with the articulation of sounds or syllables . In essence, you cant speak as loudly as others, you find it more difficult to convey emotion when you do speak, and you find it difficult to form the words you are trying to pronounce.

You dont need me to tell you that this combination of factors makes speaking extremely frustrating. When you couple all of these voicing problems with the so-called masked faces of PD, the difficulty in expressing emotions via facial expression, it’s no wonder that people occasionally find it challenging to understand what you are trying to say.

It may be tempting to withdraw from conversations with others altogether, but that would be a mistake. You need to interact with others on a daily basis, no matter how frustrating it becomes this is critical for your mental health, and be assured that your loved ones want to interact with you. The good news is that there are treatments, such as voice exercises, that can dramatically improve the voicing problems associated with PD.

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V Management Of Dysphagia

Because lack of awareness of swallowing difficulty as well as silent aspiration are not uncommon in PD, it is critical to monitor weight and provide counseling regarding signs and symptoms of swallowing difficulty even to individuals who report no swallowing difficulties. For patients with documented swallowing difficulty, regular evaluation should help to anticipate problems and put strategies in place to reduce the likelihood of malnutrition, dehydration, and pulmonary problems.

Language Problems Of Parkinsons Disease

Besides the frustrating speech and voicing problems of PD, there may also be language problems. These language problems very likely make the speech problems more difficult to deal with, so it is important to identify these language difficulties when they appear.

Speech is about expressing ideas via the use of language. Language is a cognitive ability that can be present even when you cannot speak. In the case of people with PD, they may exhibit word-finding difficulties and grammatical difficulties. They tend, for example, to use simplified sentence structures with an increase in the ratio of open-class items to closed-class items , as well as an increase in the frequency and duration of hesitations and pauses.

When listening to others speak, it’s sometimes hard for persons with PD to understand the others language, if they use complicated sentences to express their ideas. Thus, in both the production of language and comprehension of language, people with PD sometimes experience significant difficulties.

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Ways To Improve Speech In Parkinsons Disease

;5 min read

Parkinsons disease; is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the motor neurons. As it progresses, the person with PD may become harder to understand as their voice becomes softer or hoarse. Their face may become more masked or expressionless, and their voice may sound;monotone;with less emotion. They may speak faster , mumble, or repeat . Together these symptoms are known as;hypokinetic dysarthria.

A speech-language pathologist is a specialist in communication disorders and can help a person with PD to speak more clearly and confidently. Here are 9 ways an SLP can help:

What If I Have An Emergency How Will I Communicate

How Parkinson’s Patients Speak Again After Losing Their Voice
  • Use an intercom system or baby monitor to alert others that there is an emergency.
  • Use bells or buzzers if you are not able to speak. Use “codes” that signify urgency. For example, a tinkling bell may mean, “I’d like company” while an air-horn means there’s an emergency.
  • Carry a portable phone that is equipped with pre-programmed numbers.
  • Pre-program all of your telephones so they can automatically dial the necessary emergency number.
  • Consider a “life call” button if you spend time alone.

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What Changes Can Occur

There are several ways PD may affect speech:

  • The voice may get softer, breathy, or hoarse, causing others difficulty hearing what is said.
  • Speech may be slurred.
  • Speech may be mumbled or expressed rapidly.
  • The tone of the voice may become monotone, lacking the normal ups and downs.
  • The person may have difficulty finding the right words, causing speech to be slower.
  • The person may have difficulty participating in fast-paced conversations.1

Some of the medical terms that describe the speech changes that can occur with PD include:

  • Dysarthria, which is a motor speech disorder or impairment in speaking due to PD affecting the muscles required for speech
  • Hypophonia, which means soft speech, is an abnormally weak voice caused by the weakening muscles
  • Tachyphemia, also known as cluttering, is characterized by an excessively fast speed of talking and a rapid stammering that makes it difficult to understand the person speaking2,3

What Type Of Healthcare Professional Helps People With Speech Problems From Parkinsons Disease

If you have speech and voice problems, see a speech-language therapist. Your primary healthcare provider can help you find a therapist in your local area. Some speech-language pathologists have specialized training that focuses on training people with Parkinsons disease to amplify their voice. This is called the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment.

Speech-language therapists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat speech, language and swallowing disorders. If you have Parkinsons disease, a speech-language pathologist can help you:

  • Maintain as many communication skills as possible. Teach you techniques to conserve energy, including using nonverbal communication skills.
  • Introduce you to assistive devices and techniques to help improve your communication.
  • Recommend exercises to help you improve muscle strength and movements needed to improve your speech and communication options.

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What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease

Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.

Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:

  • Speaking and communicating with others
  • Problem solving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Paying attention

If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.

Experts don’t understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, another type of dementia.

Speech And Swallowing In Pd

Can Parkinson

Apathy;describes a lack of interest, enthusiasm or motivation. It is a non-motor symptom of Parkinsons Disease and interferes with the effective management of;PD symptoms, since;apathetic;people are less inclined to exercise and follow their medication schedules.; Here are some resources to understand apathy and how to cope with it.

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Communication Strategies For Optimal Success

In this 1-hour webinar speech language pathologist Angela Roberts reviews the changes in speech, facial expressions, cognition, voice and hearing caused by PD that can interfere with communication and meaningful connection with others. ;These changes impact the social, emotional, physical and practical aspects of living with PD. ;Communication strategies for optimizing successful conversation are shared. ;Registration is required, but it is free.

How Is Parkinson Disease Treated

Parkinson disease can’t be cured. But there are different therapies that can help control symptoms. Many of the medicines used to treat Parkinson disease help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully.

A procedure called deep brain stimulation may also be used to treat Parkinson disease. It sends electrical impulses into the brain to help control tremors and twitching movements. Some people may need surgery to manage Parkinson disease symptoms. Surgery may involve destroying small areas of brain tissue responsible for the symptoms. However, these surgeries are rarely done since deep brain stimulation is now available.

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Building Stronger Caregiving Partnerships Through Better Communication

In this one-hour talk, the speaker explains that diminished communication significantly impacts the social, emotional and physical burdens of caregiving. ;The fourth speaker;at the Parkinsons Foundation Caregiver Summit, Angela Roberts, PhD, explains how changes in speech, cognition and hearing due to Parkinsons disease affects communication. She then offers specific strategies for optimizing communication.;

What Can Be Done To Help

Speech in Parkinsons Disease

Those who have Parkinsons have gone their whole lives with perfect speech, and now in their sixties, they must learn how to cope with the disease and speak again. As people begin to have problems with their speech, it is common that they begin speech therapy. Speech Language Pathologists can work with them to identify problems and find a solution. Along with therapy, many Speech Easy devices are recommended to help with the stuttering and get their speech back to normal.

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How Does Parkinsons Affect Speech

As dopamine levels decrease, communication between brain cells becomes more difficult resulting in variable movement and cognitive deficits. Speech, language, cognition, and swallowing are all affected by the lowered dopamine level. Thanks to advances in medical science, there are proven strategies and therapeutic activities that are highly successful in the recovery process and speech therapy has proven to be particularly effective in treating Dysarthria and Dysphagia .

B Feeding Modifications And Drooling

Adaptive utensils may be helpful for promoting and extending independent eating. Later-stage PD may be accompanied by dementia, which complicates management of feeding and swallowing, as patients may be unable to follow directions for some compensatory strategies. Patients also may be unable to feed themselves, necessitating a trained feeder. Feeders should be trained to monitor the safety of each swallow as well speed and duration of meal. Because patients with PD may take longer to swallow, a longer mealtime should be allowed. Relatedly, for patients with reduced pharyngeal wall contraction and posterior tongue base retraction or who demonstrate impulsive feeding behavior, taking too much food too rapidly can result in increased risk of aspiration owing to collection of food in the pharynx. Smaller bites at a slower rate should be encouraged. Enteral feeding by means of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy may improve quality of life by providing nutritional support., For patients who are able, PEG does not preclude some nutrition by mouth for pleasure or nutrition.

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Are There Reasons That Someone With Mild Pd May Benefit From A Speech Therapy Evaluation

Yes! As with physical therapy, there are many things to teach a person with even mild symptoms. A baseline evaluation is an excellent idea, as many people are already exhibiting changes of which they might not even be aware in their volume, pitch range, voice inflections, and facial expression. Early treatment and education about the correct exercises can be very effective, particularly for younger people with PD who are not yet ready to reveal their diagnosis to others . The subtle communication impairments can significantly impact work relationships and effective communication and the perception of competence. People often tell me that they wish they would have known about the value of speech-language pathology services earlier. They are often so focused on their gait or tremor that they do not realize the impact of their communication impairment on their work and home life. Even subtle changes can signal challenges ahead and having a baseline evaluation and a treatment plan that can be amended over time is empowering and effective.

The Effects Of Parkinsons On Speech

What Does Parkinson,s Disease Do?

Parkinsons disease is a nervous system disorder that slowly progresses over time. The first signs of the disease can be small, and unnoticeable at first. It may be a small tremor in your hand or a loss of expression in your face. As the disease progresses many of the people affected begin to notice an effect on their speech. Some may notice their voice gets softer and monotone, slower and slurred, and can have a hard time finding the words they want to say. The cause of this disease is usually genetic, but in some cases, it can occur because of exposure to certain toxins. The symptoms start to occur at an older age, usually when people are in their sixties.

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Living With Parkinson Disease

These measures can help you live well with Parkinson disease:

  • An exercise routine can help keep muscles flexible and mobile. Exercise also releases natural brain chemicals that can improve emotional well-being.
  • High protein meals can benefit your brain chemistry
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help your ability to care for yourself and communicate with others
  • If you or your family has questions about Parkinson disease, want information about treatment, or need to find support, you can contact the American Parkinson Disease Association.

How Speech Is Affected

When Parkinsons is developing, other speech changes can occur as well. Some can affect the tone and rate of speech. Hypophonia can cause a persons speech to be softer, due to the muscles in the face weakening. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Tachyphemia can occur. This causes speech to be excessively fast, which can be hard for people to understand. Dysarthria is another effect that can occur, which is classified as a motor speech disorder. Parkinsons affects the muscles in the face that are required for speech. These disorders begin to develop because as the disease progresses, the nerves in the brain and body are being affected.

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Tips For Managing Drooling In Parkinsons

Sailorrhea, or drooling, refers to pooling of saliva in the mouth. ;It occurs in around 50-80% of all Parkinsons patients, particularly men. ;This blog post explains the cause, risk of aspiration, anxiety, and social embarrassment, with 10 helpful tips & treatment options to help with this pesky problem.

What Alternative Communication Devices And Tips Can Help With My Voice And Speech Problems

How does speech therapy help Parkinson’s patients?

If you have difficulty speaking, are frustrated and stressed by your inability to communicate or tire from the efforts to speak, consider the following devices and methods to be better understood:

  • Amplification: This could be a portable personal amplifier or a telephone amplifier that can be used to increase vocal loudness in soft-spoken people. The amplifier also decreases voice fatigue.
  • TTY telephone relay system: This is a telephone equipped with a keyboard so speech can be typed and read by a relay operator to the listener. Either the whole message can be typed or just the words that are not understood.
  • Low-technology devices: Paper-based books and boards, alphabet boards and typing devices are examples of low technology assistive methods.
  • High-technology electronic speech enhancers, communication devices: Computers with voice synthesizers and speech generating devices are available. Talk to a speech-language pathologist about the available high technology devices best suitable for your needs.

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