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Dr. Mahler

Reasons for Referral to a Speech-Language Pathologist

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Dr. Mahler    19

PD is a degenerative neurological disorder. What is the point of speech treatment??


This is a question that is commonly asked by people unfamiliar with Parkinson disease. Reduced ability to communicate can have a significant impact on quality of life because it affects professional communications, interactions with family and friends, and limits participation in community activities. Speech characteristics of people with PD have been described as reduced in loudness, imprecise in articulation, and monotone in pitch with a breathy or harsh voice quality (Darley, Aronson, & Brown, 1969). Approximately 75-90% of people with PD have a speech disorder but very few receive treatment (Hartelius & Svensson, 1994). This is partly because people may not be aware that speech therapy can help and partly because it is difficult for the person with PD to identify changes in speech due to decreased sensory awareness. It is important to know that there are speech treatments that can benefit people with PD. For example, LSVT, is one treatment that has extensive research to support its efficacy in improving speech features of people with idiopathic PD to help them to be easier to understand in functional communication.


Did you know . . ? A speech-language pathologist can help with more than speech. We are trained in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of cognitive-linguistic aspects of communication as well as swallowing function in addition to speech. Swallowing safely is important for maintaining hydration and nutrition and cognition is important for memory, organization, problem-solving and reasoning. PD may affect all of these aspects of communication and swallowing.


A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is a valuable member of your care team. If you don’t have access to an SLP then discuss this with your physician and find out how you can find a speech-language pathologist experienced with PD. People with PD are highly individual even though they share a common diagnosis. Therefore, individual evaluation is important to develop treatment plans uniquely designed to meet your individual needs.


Please let us know if we can offer any additional information by answering your questions concerning speech, cognition, language and/or swallowing on this forum.




Leslie Mahler, PhD, CCC-SLP

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kaihoukan    0

I am amazed at this - I never knew such a form of help existed.


My friend is getting a little vocally indistinct and also has problems with swallowing.


I don't know if you can get an SLP in the UK, but I certainly hope so.


Thanks for this very interesting and useful post, Dr Mahler.

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