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For people with Parkinson’s disease, tremors, slowness and rigidity are not the only physical limitations. Speech and voice disorders are extremely common among Parkinson’s patients, and can have equally devastating effects. UofL Health - Frazier Rehab Institute offers LSVT® BIG and LOUD, an integrated treatment program clinically proven effective at increasing vocal loudness and improving gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Soft, monotone, breathy, hoarse and difficult to understand are often qualities used to describe the voices of people with Parkinson’s disease. The same motor system dysfunction that causes other symptoms of Parkinson’s is thought to also affect the muscles of the respiratory system. In addition, people in this situation are often unaware that their voice is getting softer and may be unable to cue themselves to use a louder voice, even if they can respond to external cues to do so. Being unable to effectively communicate with friends, family and co-workers leads to frustration, confusion and alienation.
Traditional speech therapy has been ineffective at treating voice and speech disorders in Parkinson’s because of the complexity of the condition. That is why LSVT LOUD is such an innovative program. The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) method focuses solely on the goal of speaking loudly. Through an intensive 16-session, month-long program, individuals stimulate and train their vocal muscles to reach an appropriate level of loudness without straining. The training also focuses on sensory awareness and internal cueing to treat those aspects of the disorder.
Research has shown that LSVT LOUD has improved vocal loudness and articulation, and improvements have lasted up to two years. The method is most effective for those in the early to middle stages of the Parkinson’s disease.
An extension of LSVT LOUD principles, LSVT BIG applies the method to limb movement in a physical or occupational therapy setting. Repetitive core movements are practiced in one hour sessions, four days a week for four weeks to maximize results. Training focuses on improving trunk rotation and gait, which in turn affect speed and balance. These results have been proven effective in the short term.