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Parkinson's Disease and Speech

For Parkinson's patients, speech therapy can often help with speaking difficulties that leave them unable to communicate clearly.

By , Senior contributing editor
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In a high majority of people with Parkinson's, the disease also takes a toll on speech. The repercussions can be devastating as patients, unable to communicate clearly, withdraw from social interaction. A form of speech rehabilitation called LSVT compensates by training Parkinson's patients to talk more loudly.

How to recognize voice and speech problems

Parkinson's disease can impair muscles of the voice box, throat, mouth, tongue, and lips. Subtle changes may happen early, with the person's voice becoming softer and flat in tone, making it hard to hear. In advanced stages of Parkinson's, speech may become unintelligible.

Let the neurologist know if you notice these symptoms:

  • Talking in a monotone, with little inflection in pitch
  • Reduced speech volume
  • Breathy or hoarse voice
  • Mumbled speech, imprecise articulation
  • Difficulties initiating speech
  • Hesitant, sometimes stuttering speech
  • Short, fast rushes of speech