What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells located inside of your brain. These nerve cells produce dopamine, in turn, Parkinson’s disease affects the way a person speaks and walks as well as increases muscle rigidity and tremors. The disease worsens gradually, and while it can be treated, there is no cure.
Classified as a movement disorder, Parkinson’s disease causes weakness, stiffness and difficulty walking. While it slowly progresses, these effects grow worse as years go by. It is commonly found in middle-aged to elderly adults ages 40 and up, but it can, rarely, be found in young adults and adolescents. A person suffering from Parkinson’s disease can be seen struggling with rising from a seated position, appear tired and fatigues and experience lightheadedness and dizziness.
People with this disease will, at times, notice difficulty in speaking, chewing, swallowing or eating. Their facial expressions, blinking and speech will also become very limited as larger tolls are taken when attempting these activities. Changes in the voice and a monotone sound are also apparent in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. As time goes by, the person affected with Parkinson’s disease will become less aware of their deficiencies, making improvement and progress much harder.
How I Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Speech therapy in Denver for this disease uses a holistic approach and includes person-centered goals. Improving the client’s quality of life is important. This may include cognitive therapy such as increasing awareness of deficits and using memory strategies when applicable. One of the symptoms includes decreased awareness of one’s deficits; therefore, therapy in the early-mild stage makes the most impact.
Therapy may also provide exercises and strategies to conserve one’s energy when communicating or swallowing. Traditional techniques along with meditation and breath work may also be used. Assistive devices may be recommended such as voice amplification or a communication board, along with training to the client’s immediate family and communication partners.
This is the first speech treatment with level 1 evidence and efficacy for treating voice and speech disorders in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The treatment improves respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function to maximize speech intelligibility. 90% of patients improve vocal loudness and 80% maintain those effects for 12-24 months post-treatment. Treatment is administered in 16 sessions over a single month (four individual 60 minute sessions per week).