Parkinson’s Disease and LSVT Therapy

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder affecting the central nervous system that is marked by motor symptoms such as shaking and difficulty with posture. Other commonly recognised symptoms are poor handwriting and speech and swallowing issues. People with this disease will often exhibit symptoms such as hoarse, harsh, or rough voices or other difficulties with speech caused by impairment of the vocal organs.

How Do We Treat Parkinson’s Disease

The Speech Language Pathologists at Speech Therapy Centres of Canada are dedicated to helping people with this condition overcome their impairment and recover their speech. To do this, we use the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, or LSVT-LOUD, a well-researched, documented, and supported therapeutic method for this condition.

What is LSVT-LOUD?

LSVT-LOUD is a widely-accepted and practiced treatment for speech disorders that arise from Parkinson’s disease. LSVT-LOUD was originally developed in 1987 by Dr. Lorraine Ramig, and was first administered to her patient, Lee Silverman. Since then, rigorous testing and review by professionals and researchers has proven that it shows excellent results.

Many studies have been published from the research to support the theory behind the treatment. They show that LVST can drastically improve:

  • Vocal loudness – the ability to produce audible sounds
  • Intonation – the ability to produce different levels of sound or tones of voice
  • Quality of speech – the often harsh, rough, or otherwise difficult to understand speech that is often seen in Parkinson’s patients

The improvements seen in patients who were given LVST therapy were shown to be maintained for up to two years after treatment.

Does LVST Help With Any Other Parkinson’s Symptoms?

Aside from difficulties with speech, those with Parkinson’s Disease often exhibit monotone facial expressions, difficulties swallowing and problems with articulation. LSVT treatment has proven effective in the treatment of all of these conditions, as well as improving the patient’s self-confidence and mood.

LSVT also focuses on the mental aspect of speaking. The process helps patients gain new confidence in their voice, and teaches them that thinking loudly will help them speak loudly.

How Does it Work?

LSVT employs numerous different therapeutic methods to help improve the overall speech of the patient. The main aim is to bring vocal loudness to a normal level without producing strain on the voice. The therapy achieves this goal by stimulating the muscles of the voice box and other speech mechanisms through a rigorous but effective system of exercises. LVST has also proven effective in improving respiratory, laryngeal, and articulatory function. A full treatment will not only improve the health of the vocal organs, but also improve the overall cognitive function of the patient.

How is it Administered?

The process is dependent on short-term, intensive training sessions to help build healthy habits in the patient’s vocal organs. This requires four weeks and 16 total training sessions (4 lessons per week, 60 minutes each). The intensive administration of the process is supported by research that shows that motor learning and acquisition is best done by intensive repetition.

Prior to beginning LSVT, the patient is tested and evaluated to determine the best course of action. They are then put into an exercise regimen that will improve their overall vocal audibility, articulation, and intonation as well confidence and cognitive function.