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Rehabilitation: Speech Therapy

An Underactive Thyroid Won’t Slow Her Down

An Underactive Thyroid Won’t Slow Her Down
“Patients become much more confident in the ability to speak because they are not constantly asked to repeat themselves, ” explains Mary Jo Haughey, speech language pathologist.
When Parkinson’s disease affected Joan St. Hilaire’s speech, the North Fort Myers resident gave up speaking.

“Last year I began mumbling,” Joan says. “I couldn’t pronounce any of my words. I was so ashamed.” Something as simple as ordering food in a restaurant became too difficult and Joan eventually stopped socializing and making public appearances, unless absolutely necessary.

Her physician thought she might benefit from voice therapy that is specifically designed for people who live with a neurologic disorder, Lee Silverman Voice Training (LSVT). “I signed up for four weeks, four times a week,” Joan says. “After a week I could tell a difference.”

Her speech started to return and she spoke clearly enough for people to understand what she said. “I can’t believe it,” she says. “I don’t know how it works, but it does. I do my homework every night and now I think about all the things I want to do. I feel like a whole new person.”

Joan’s results are not uncommon, says speech language pathologist Mary Jo Haughey. “Virtually every person—90 percent of patients with Parkinson’s disease—will have problems with speech that start early in the disease process and that will progressively diminish their quality of life,” she says.

Common speech problems include:

  • Soft voice
  • Mumbled speech
  • Monotone speech
  • Hoarse voice

“LSVT LOUD is an effective speech treatment for individuals with Parkinson disease,” Mary Jo says. “LSVT LOUD improves vocal loudness by stimulating the muscles of their voice box (larynx) and speech mechanism through a systematic hierarchy of exercises. Patients become much more confident in the ability to speak because they are not constantly asked to repeat themselves.”

Lee Silverman Voice Training was developed in 1987 as a way to help neurologic patients improve their speaking voice. The program is named for Lee Silverman, the woman who was the first successful patient who helped professionals develop the program. Vocal experts have studied the training for more than 20 years.

The training includes 16 sessions and is available through physician referral. For more information on the program, call 239-418-2026.

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Speech Program Gives Parkinson’s a Voice

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