To compare two forms of speech and voice therapy (one involving breathing and speech exercises and the other involving singing in groups) to see which type of therapy is better in treating the decreased voice volume that many patients with Parkinson’s disease experience.
We will recruit approximately 40 individuals with PD, diagnosed by a movement disorders neurologist, who have difficulty with their voice and speech. Half will be randomly assigned to participate in the breathing and voice exercise group and the other half will be randomly assigned to participate in the singing group. Each group will meet once weekly for 90 minutes with a licensed speech pathologist. We will measure aspects of voice quality before and after the 12 week treatments using computerized speech analysis equipment. We will also measure how much time subjects spend practicing voice and speech exercises at home on their own and whether voice-related quality of life improves after the treatments.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
Voice and speech disorders are common in PD and cause distress, social embarrassment, and social isolation for some individuals. One form of voice and speech therapy called the Lee Silverman technique requires an intensive time commitment to rehabilitate the voice, meeting two to four times weekly for several weeks.
Musical therapy is being used for rehabilitation from other types of neurological conditions, such as language impairment following stroke. If singing therapy can also improve voice and speech disorders related to PD, this would represent an important alternative to already existing speech therapy techniques.
We hope to learn whether singing therapy is superior to standard voice and breathing exercises in treating PD-related voice disorders. We also hope to gather more information about how voice disorders impact lives of patients with Parkinson’s disease and whether they correlate with other factors such as age or disease duration.