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Jerry martin


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You are young for those typically diagnosed with PD and treatment is very important for you.  Communication competence is empowering.  Speech problems have been reported to occur in as many as 89% of people with PD.  The most common difficulties reported are reduced vocal loudness, monotone, mumbled articulation and a hoarse or breathy sounding voice in addition to difficulty with initiation that you wrote about. 


Speech problems are very common in people with Parkinson disease!  It has been reported that as many as 89% of people with PD have trouble with their speech or voice.  The most common difficulties include reduced vocal loudness, monotone, mumbled articulation and a hoarse or breathy sounding voice. 


The underlying cause of some of speech and voice difficulties has multiple sources:

•            Reduced vocal fold adduction

•            Reduced mouth opening

•            Decreased dynamic modulation of muscles of articulation

•            Mismatch between the person’s perception of their loudness during communication and actual levels of loudness


Many times there is also a mismatch between the person’s perception of their loudness during communication and actual level of loudness and understandability just as the one you reported.  For example, someone with PD may think people in their family need hearing aids when in fact it is the person with PD who is speaking too softly to be easily understood.


Unfortunately, the medications that can be so helpful for improving limb movement don’t always have a positive impact on bradykinesia for movement of speech muscles.  That is why people who have communication difficulties as a result of PD need behavioral speech treatment.


The good news is that speech treatment may help you.  I recommend that you speak to your physician and get a referral to a speech-language pathologist (SLP).  Find an SLP who is experienced in treating communication deficits associated with PD.  That person will do an evaluation to determine how much of your difficulty is due to changes in speech motor control and how much may be caused by changes in cognitive/linguistic abilities.  Over 25 years of research has gone into the development of LSVT LOUD to help improve voice and speech in people with PD.  A speech and language evaluation will determine whether you are a candidate for this treatment.


I hope this information helps and that you will seek an evaluation soon to get started on improving your communication skills.


Please write again if you have any additional questions.




Dr. Mahler

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