How Can Speech Therapy For Parkinson’s Disease Help?

How Can Speech Therapy For Parkinson's Disease Help? | Voz Speech Therapy Services Bilingual Speech Therapist Clinic Washington DC

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that affects your body’s ability to move.

It affects your brain’s ability to create dopamine, which means that it’s a neurological disorder.

Symptoms can range from difficulty moving and walking, to issues with speaking and swallowing.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, we at Voz Speech Therapy can help match you to a speech therapist with experience working with Parkinson’s disease.

It’s a common part of what we offer for adult speech therapy.

You should start your speech therapy as soon as you start to experience symptoms that affect your ability to speak.

This way, our experienced speech therapists can help support your communication and reduce the onset of the disease’s symptoms.

Now let’s find out more about what Parkinson’s disease is, what its symptoms look like, and how speech therapy can help.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that is progressive.

Your brain requires dopamine in order to make smooth, coordinated body movements.

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and hormone that is produced in the part of your brain called the substantia nigra.

If you have Parkinson’s, the cells of your substantia nigra start to die.

This results in a reduction of your dopamine levels.

When your dopamine levels drop below eighty percent, you can start to experience symptoms associated with the condition.

Complications often begin with movement issues and progress to more severe limitations.

Parkinson’s Disease Causes

Currently, we don’t know the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease.

However, there is ongoing research trying to figure it out.

Right now, it seems to have both genetic and environmental causes.

Another working hypothesis is that certain viruses can trigger the disease.

Whatever the exact cause, Parkinson’s is linked to low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter.

There are also certain increased risk factors associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Risk factors include:

How To Tell If You Have Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms increase as the condition worsens.

Early symptoms of this disease are often misdiagnosed and unrecognized.

Some early symptoms that can be apparent before you experience any motor problems include:

  • Constipation
  • Poor posture
  • Vocal changes
  • Small or cramped handwriting
  • Decreased sense of smell

When you start to develop motor problems, you could experience a tremor while resting, slowed movements, body stiffness, or balance challenges that increase your risk of falling.

As the disease progresses, you could start to experience:

  • Getting stuck while walking
  • Decreased blinking function
  • Decreased eating and swallowing function
  • Increased risk of falling backwards
  • The Parkinsonian gait
  • Reduced ability to move your arm while walking
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Attention and memory challenges

What Is Parkinson's Disease? | Voz Speech Therapy Services Bilingual Speech Therapist Clinic Washington DC

How Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect Speech?

Parkinson’s disease affects your brain’s dopamine levels.

Since speech is controlled by your brain and involves muscle coordination, the disease can also affect your speaking ability.

It’s very common for you to experience speaking difficulties that result in a soft, monotone, breathy, and hoarse voice if you have Parkinson’s disease.

RELATED: Speech Therapy For Voice Disorders

This is because your motor system is affected by the condition, and the same symptoms that affect your movement also affect your speech.

Particularly, the symptoms of rigidity, slowness of movement, and tremors can affect the muscles in your mouth and throat that facilitate speech.

RELATED: Speech Therapy For Fluency Disorders (Stuttering & Cluttering)

You can experience reduced movements of your respiratory system, which reduces your breath support, and larynx, which reduces your vocal loudness.

Your articulation will also often be affected, which can also impact your confidence to speak in social settings.

You can experience a change in your sensory processing when you have Parkinson’s disease.

This may make it difficult for you to realize that you’re not speaking clearly or audibly.

The people around you won’t be able to hear you, but you won’t realize you’re speaking softly until they mention it to you because you are not able to cue yourself to speak loud enough.

Plus, raising your voice could even give you the impression of yelling.

This often leads to a frustrating experience for both you and your family.

Speaking disorders can reduce your quality of life because communication is a key indicator of confidence and positive self image.

How Can Speech Therapy Help?

Parkinson’s disease can affect your ability to speak, often resulting in conditions like dysarthria or dysphagia.

Dysarthria is a condition that makes it harder to speak, while dysphagia is a condition characterized by difficulty swallowing.

Speech therapy can help with both of these, and other speech challenges that Parkinson’s can cause.

Your speech therapist will help you to communicate verbally and nonverbally, if necessary.

For earlier stages of Parkinson’s, speech therapy usually focuses on voice control.

Depending on your symptoms, you will also focus on improving your swallowing.

Your speech therapist will recommend different exercises that will improve your muscle control, as well as show you different techniques to eat.

This will ensure you still get adequate nutrition in addition to your communication ability, both of which are equally important.

Your speech therapist can also teach you speaking techniques that will conserve your energy.

This is especially helpful in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease.

If you get to the point that communicating nonverbally is a better choice for you, then your therapist will teach you how to communicate effectively nonverbally.

This might include using expressions, different gestures, or sign language to communicate.

They might also recommend appropriate communication technologies to help.

These nonverbal communication technologies are also referred to as augmentative and alternative communication, and actually offer many benefits to their users.

Specifically, you can reduce your potential frustration and stress around communication.

The pressure to speak will also be alleviated, which will help you relax and communicate more effectively.

You can see how important speech therapy is for your quality of life as your Parkinson’s progresses.

Speech therapists can help support you at every stage of your condition.

RELATED: Frequently Asked Questions About Speech Therapy

Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that requires a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Together, we can help manage your symptoms and maintain a better quality of life with improved communication and self care.

This means making sure you’re also resting, exercising, and getting a balanced diet.

All of this will support your treatment so that you can get the most out of your speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

If you’re struggling with Parkinson’s disease, and are looking for professional treatment, book your appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today.

Voz Speech Therapy
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005

(202) 734-4884

Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.

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