What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that predominately affects dopamine-producing neurons (nerve cells) in a specific area of the brain called the substantia nigra. These neurons break down and no longer produce chemical “messengers” called dopamine. Dopamine sends signals to other nerve cells, and help with, for example, initiating speech and movement. Many people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from disorders of speech and voice. Cognitive skills and memory may also be impaired. These disorders are typically characterized by speech and voice that are monotonous, quiet, hoarse, and breathy. People with Parkinson’s disease also tend to give fewer non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and hand gestures. These disabilities increase as the disease progresses and may lead to serious problems with communication and swallowing.
Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease are referred for speech and language therapy to improve the intelligibility (clarity) of their speech, and primarily receive treatment for dysarthria (a speech disorder due to muscle weakness), articulation, voice, and resonance problems. They may need swallowing treatment. Specific treatment to address cognitive and memory skills may also be needed. Intensive voice treatment protocols continue to be effective in this population (Sapir, Ramig & Fox, 2011). LSVT LOUD is the gold standard of treatment for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. The clinician rendering treatment must be certified in LSVT LOUD.
What is LSVT LOUD?
LSVT LOUD is an effective speech treatment for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and other neurological conditions. LSVT was named after Mrs. Lee Silverman (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment), a woman with Parkinson’s Disease. Dr. Lorraine Ramig developed LSVT. LSVT has been scientifically studied for over 25 years with support from the National Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding organizations. LSVT LOUD trains people with PD to use their voice at a more normal loudness level while speaking at home, work, or in the community. Key to the treatment is helping people “recalibrate” their perceptions so they know how loud or soft they sound to other people and can feel comfortable using a stronger voice at a normal loudness level.
While LSVT LOUD treatment has helped people in all stages of PD, the majority of research has been on those in moderate stages of the disease. LSVT LOUD has also helped people with atypical parkinsonisms, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and has recently shown promise for adults with speech issues arising from stroke or multiple sclerosis and children with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. Beginning your work with LSVT LOUD before you’ve noticed significant problems with voice, speech and communication will often lead to the best results, but it’s never too late to start. LSVT LOUD has the potential to produce significant improvements even for people facing considerable communication difficulties.
LSVT LOUD is an intensive, one-on-one treatment delivered by a Speech-Language Pathologist who is certified to render this treatment. One-on-one treatments are delivered over a month’s time and include:
- One-hour sessions
- Four sessions per week
- Four weeks in a row
- Daily homework and carryover exercises
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