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How does Parkinson's affect communication?

Many people with Parkinson's Disease will experience a voice problem. The most common problem is a soft, quiet, monotone voice that gradually becomes quieter and harder to understand. Speech can become slurred or mumbled and imprecise. These communication problems often result in social isolation. 

People with communication problems due to Parkinson's Disease typically have an unreliable self-feedback mechanism. As a result, they often do not realise how quietly they are speaking and may initally believe that others are deaf. As more and more people ask for repetition, the person begins to realise that they have a problem.

Other individuals with Parkinson's Disease may have rapid speech. They often have a reduced awareness of how fast their speech is and also difficulty controlling their speech rate.


Lee Silverman Voice Therapy (LSVT)   

Speech treatments for people with Parkinson's disease in public healthcare are usually given at a low-intensity dosage (e.g. one or two sessions per week for some period of time). However, an intensive therapy approach is needed in order for individuals with Parkinson's to make gains and improve their voice. 

LSVT LOUD is considered the gold standard in the treatment of Parkinson's voice. It focuses on increasing vocal loudness to normal levels. Therapy is delivered in an intensive, high-effort manner. LSVT LOUD consists of 4 one-hour sessions per week for 4 weeks (16 sessions in total).  Find out more about the benefits of LSVT  by watching the video below. 




SPEAK OUT! combines speech, voice, and cognitive exercises. It places emphasis on speaking deliberately or with intent. It is a two-part training course that includes individual therapy sessions (SPEAK OUT!) and group therapy (The LOUD Crowd).

The individual therapy consists of twelve 40-45 minute sessions. When the patient has completed the individual SPEAK OUT! therapy sessions they then transition into the LOUD Crowd. The LOUD Crowd is a maintenance program which consists of weekly group sessions. This group therapy provides encouragement and motivation. It also makes group members accountable.

Watch this video to learn more about SPEAK OUT!







How does Parkinson's Disease affects swallowing?

A person with Parkinson's Disease may experience swallowing difficulties at any stage.  Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe. They may include:

  • difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids

  • coughing or throat clearing during or after eating/drinking

  • feeling as if food is getting stuck


As Parkinson's Disease progresses, swallowing can become severely impaired and food/liquid can get into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is the leading cause of death in Parkinson's Disease. 

Treatment for Swallowing Difficulties in Parkinson's

Treatment for swallowing difficulties in Parkinson's Disease is available and it is specific to the nature of the swallowing problem. It may involve strategies to help food or drink go down safely, diet and fluid changes (thickening liquids, making foods softer), or specific swallowing exercises. 

What speech therapy services does the Aptus Speech Clinic offer people with Parkinson's?


At the Aptus Speech Clinic, we seek to break the cycle of under-treatment of speech problems in Parkinson's Disease in Ireland. We offer free educational talks on how Parkinson's affects speech and the benefits of intensive therapy.

We also provide the SPEAK OUT! and LSVT programs to individuals with Parkinson's in our clinic rooms in Clonee, Co. Meath. For individuals who wish to participate in intensive therapy but who cannot attend clinic, we provide LSVT e-LOUD (LSVT treatment delivered by tele-practice).

Services offered: 

  • Assessment of Speech & Swallowing 
  • Education on how Parkinson's can affect speech & swallowing 
  • Evaluation of suitability for intensive therapy -  Lee Silverman Voice Therapy OR SPEAK OUT! Therapy
  • Lee Silverman Voice Therapy face-to-face or via Skype
  • SPEAK OUT! Therapy face-to-face
  • Expiratory Muscle Strength Training 
  • Advice on tools that can help more severe speech problems e.g. Conversation Paceboard app, voice amplifier, text to speech apps
  • Swallowing rehabilitation (where appropriate) 
  • Advice on food and drink consistencies following swallowing assessment
  • Advice on saliva management 

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