Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that impacts an individual’s motor functions, such as walking, talking, and other movements. It can also result in stiffness, shaking, and impaired balance and coordination. However, the symptom many people with Parkinson’s find most disarming is the inability to communicate clearly. This in conjunction with the disease itself can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and lead to changes in behavior, trouble sleeping, difficulty with memory, fatigue, and depression. Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, commonly known as LSVT for Parkinson’s disease is used to help improve an individual’s speech and prevent some of these issues.
Parkinson’s disease is more prevalent than you may think. It is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 90,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. each year. That number is expected to rise to 12 million by 2030. While age is identified as the primary risk factor for Parkinson’s, targeting individuals 65 and over, 4% of those diagnosed are under the age of fifty. Men have a 1.5 higher risk than women of getting the disease.
What is LSVT?
LSVT for Parkinson’s disease, also known as LSVT LOUD, was initially developed for Mrs. Lee Silverman in the 1980s by Dr. Lorraine Ramig. The therapy focuses on improving speech and the ability to communicate for individuals dealing with the challenges of living with Parkinson’s. For 25 years Dr. Ramig was at the forefront of research to support the development and implementation of LSVT.
People with Parkinson’s tend to speak at a lower-than-normal volume. During LSVT therapy, clients use a loud voice to do frequent and intense vocal cord exercises. Although the volume they are using seems loud to them, they are actually working toward achieving a normal speaking volume.
The duration and frequency of LSVT sessions can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs. Typically, LSVT for Parkinson’s disease will include four sessions per week over a four-week period. Clients are also given daily in-home exercises to complete. LSVT helps the brain to relearn and recalibrate sensory feedback. As the client’s speech improves, they will come to realize that their loud voice is actually normal. Daily exercises should continue after the initial LSVT therapy. These exercises take 10 to 15 minutes per day.
Benefits of LSVT for Parkinson’s Disease
LSVT is an evidence-based, research-supported treatment that can provide multiple benefits for individuals with Parkinson’s. Speech therapists certified in LSVT LOUD teach clients exercises that will strengthen their head, neck, and diaphragm muscles to improve vocal loudness and intensity. This will help them to communicate and prevent the isolation that can result from being unable to communicate clearly.
LSVT for Parkinson’s disease improves speech articulation and clarity, facial expressions, and Neural functioning. Swallowing is also often impacted by the onset of Parkinson’s. However, LSVT can help improve swallowing, which will in turn improve nutrition and reduce the risk of choking on food.
LSVT At Speech Pathology Solutions
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms may be mild at first and not appear to warrant LSVT. However, early intervention can slow the onset of symptoms.
At Speech Pathology Solutions, we provide the highest quality of speech therapy in NJ for children of all ages, adolescents, and adults. Every client receives a comprehensive standardized evaluation that enables our therapists to create individualized treatment. Our services include LSVT for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
Contact us today to schedule an evaluation and let us determine what therapy is the best course of action to address the issues you or a loved one are dealing with.