A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be devastating. The hallmark of this progressive, degenerative neurological disorder is lack of smooth coordinated movement. Many people are familiar with the tremor, shuffling gait, balance issues, mask-like expression, and rigidity that are common in PD. However, what some people may not realize is that voice and speech become progressively affected. This may begin with hoarseness, soft weak voice, and/or slurring of speech sounds, along with rapid indistinct speech. The voice can deteriorate to the point where the individual can’t be heard or understood.
Since 1999, an amazing therapeutic approach, developed by the Parkinson Voice Project, has brought remarkable improvement in speech and voice to countless people with PD. Parkinson Voice Project of Richardson, Texas (www.ParkinsonVoiceProject.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the voices of those with PD and related neurological disorders, using their unique method known as SPEAK OUT! Karen Sussman, MA, CCC, Director of the Professional Voice Care Center, received her training in this highly effective therapeutic protocol at the Richardson headquarters. The treatment is based on numerous efficacy studies showing that PD is a movement disorder that can be improved using movement! The protocol is based on the use of “speaking with intent” in a loud, deliberate fashion through 6 levels of daily practice tasks. “Speaking with intent” activates the unaffected part of the nervous system. Speech becomes louder, clearer, and easier to understand. As an added bonus, these practice tasks also strengthen the muscles of swallowing. This in turn may help to prevent the aspiration so common in PD.
SPEAK OUT! is designed as a 12-session voice therapy program, along with intensive home practice. A detailed practice manual will be provided free of charge by Parkinson Voice Program, once you are enrolled in our SPEAK OUT! program. After completing the SPEAK OUT! program, you can enroll in The LOUD Crowd® group practice program (availability based on enrollment), to help reinforce and maintain the skills you have learned.
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