In general, there is a lack of understanding – both in the research and in the community – about how Parkinson’s affects communication. And yet it ranks as one of the most frustrating impairments for patients and their families facing this disease.
ASHA recently published an article titled Speech Versus Speaking: The Experiences of People With Parkinson’s Disease and Implications for Intervention by Yorkston, Baylor, and Britton. They interviewed 24 people with Parkinson’s about their experiences both with speaking in general and with speech therapy specifically. I thought it was fascinating and a great paper to share with patients so that they feel less alone, not only in their struggle to communicate, but also in their perception of speech therapy.
One of my favorite quotes from their interviews was, “I felt sillier than all get out in there. These tones for as long as I could for at least half an hour of time almost every day of the week, so … I felt silly enough just doing it with [the clinician] there. By myself, it seems too ridiculous.”
The article has some excellent insight into how patients perceive speech therapy, which I think inspires a discussion about how we as clinicians can challenge ourselves to be more creative, to make therapy more engaging and fun and well… less ridiculous.
I think one of the first things we can do is be more proactive in specifically defining how Parkinson’s affects communication and how we as a profession are able to serve this population within the context of functional communication in the real world.
This handout is designed to be a step in that direction. This free download also comes with a couple bonus graphics that pair well with LSVT: one to help visualize variable loudness and one to help inspire being loud during therapy.
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