Speech, Voice, and Parkinson’s

John Dean

Speech and voice impairments are common among people living with Parkinson’s. As many as 90% of people with Parkinson’s experience difficulties such as “hypophonia” (soft speech) or a more monotone, raspy, or breathy voiceSpeech can become less intelligible and can make communication difficult, especially if paired with facial masking (a decrease in facial expression). It will come as no surprise then that speech and voice impairments can impact quality of life.

Speech and Language Pathologist John Dean recently sat down with us to discuss the various speech challenges related to Parkinson’s and actions you can take every day to train your voice, improve your speech, and communicate more fluidly and clearly.

To download the transcript, click here.
Note: This is not a flawless word-for-word transcript, but it’s close.

Show Notes

  • Speech-language therapy can help you in all stages of Parkinson’s, and seeing a speech-language therapist or pathologist soon after diagnosis is a good way to ensure your voice stays stronger, longer
  • Speech-language therapy can help with everything from communication to swallowing and cognition as it relates to language
  • Quiet speech, or hypophonia, is very common in Parkinson’s, as is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Speech-language therapy can help you manage these symptoms
  • Aspiration pneumonia, an extremely serious condition that can result from swallowing difficulties, can occur when a large amount of material from the stomach or mouth enters the lungs. Because of this risk, it’s important to talk to your doctor and speech-language therapist if swallowing becomes a concern
  • Dual-task exercises not only help you feel prepared for real-life experiences such as shopping and talking at the same time, but they can be engaging and fun ways to strengthen communication and cognition skills
  • When you visit a speech-language therapist on a regular schedule, such as every six months, they can help you maintain your voice, communication, and swallowing strength while also checking for any possible red flags that have occurred since your last visit
  • Group speech therapy classes and community singing programs, especially those designed specifically for people living with Parkinson’s, offer voice and speech benefits while also encouraging you  to interact with your community and build social connections, two important aspects of living well with Parkinson’s
  • A good starting place for finding a speech-language therapist near you is through the

    International Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Society 

resources mentioned

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*The Second Season of the Parkinson’s Podcast is made possible through generous support in honor of Dr. Margaret Hilgartner.

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