How are speech problems treated?

  • By a speech-language pathologist who is a trained health care professional specializing in evaluating and treating people with speech, swallowing, voice, language and memory problems.
  • Go to a recommended speech-language pathologist by asking your physician/primary PD health care provider.
  • The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®). The first speech treatment for PD proven to significantly improve speech after one month of treatment.
  • Exercises taught in the LSVT® method are easy to learn and typically have an immediate impact on communication.
  • Improvements have been shown to last up to two years following treatment.
  • LSVT® methods have also been used with some success in treating speech and voice problems in individuals with atypical Parkinson’s syndromes such as Shy-Drager syndrome, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), and Multiple-System Atrophy (MSA).
  • “LSVT® Alive! Homework Helper” is a 25-minute interactive videotape, which guides the user through a daily speech/voice strengthening session. You can visit LSVT® or call 1-888-438-5788. 

LSVT® Guidelines

  • LSVT® must be administered 4 days a week for 4 consecutive weeks in order to be effective.
  • On days that you have therapy, you should perform your LSVT® exercises one other time during the day; on days that you do not have therapy, you should perform your LSVT® exercises two times a day.
  • Once you complete the 4-week LSVT® , you should perform your LSVT® exercises daily in order to maintain your improved voice.
  • Schedule a 6-month LSVT® re-evaluation/follow-up with your LSVT® certified speech pathologist to continually monitor your voice.
  • If available in your area, participate in a speech group whose focus is on THINKING LOUD.
  • Unless otherwise directed by a physician, drink plenty of water.
  • A Digital Sound Level Meter can help you monitor your volume. One of these meters can be purchased from Radio Shack for about $45.00. Place the meter arms length away from you. Normal conversational volume ranges between 68-74dB.

Collagen Injections have been used in the treatment of voice and speech impairment in PD:

  • Contact a recommended Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor to proceed with this type of treatment.
  • The purpose of collagen injections is to build up vocal folds that do not close completely while talking.
  • The procedure involves injecting collagen directly into the vocal folds.
  • The collagen effect typically lasts for 6 months, and must be re-injected.
  • Some patients have reported improvement in their voice from this procedure.

Assistive Communication Devices

  • When fatigue or other illness makes it difficult to use your normal voice you may find an assistive communication device helpful.
  • A personal amplification device is the most often device used by people with PD.
  • Other communication devices range from hand-made communication boards to sophisticated computerized equipment.
  • A speech-language pathologist can recommend an appropriate device.
  • Speech Easy is an FDA-approved feedback device used for stuttering. It is a small electronic device worn on the ear (similar to a hearing aid). Certain people with Parkinson’s who are having difficulty with their voice and also with verbal fluency and stuttering have benefited from use of this device. 

If you have any questions about speech problems, please visit the Talk to a Speech Clinician forum, where a team of experts answer questions regarding speech and people with Parkinson's disease.

Want to Learn More?

Print this checklist:
Do I Have a Speech or Voice Problem?

Print this checklist:
Seeking Help from a Speech Pathologist

Request a free copy of this NPF manual:
Speech and Swallowing

Watch this video:
How does speech therapy help Parkinson's patients?

Medical content reviewed by: Nina Browner, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in North Carolina and by Fernando Pagan, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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