New Drug Provides Speech Improvement for People With Parkinson’s                                                                                                                 
                                                          Have I got your attention?

There is not actually any drug I am aware of that provides improvement to speech for people with Parkinson’s disease (PWP), but I’m guessing if there were, many would be asking their physician for a prescription. WHY?

Because Behavioral Change is HARD!

There is a reason that the news has been filled lately with stories about weight loss medications Wegovy, Ozempic and others that are beginning to flood the market. Many, if not most people who are overweight, will tell you that through much of their life they have struggled with managing their weight. And, this has included multiple cycles of dieting and losing weight, only to regain it again.Even Oprah Winfrey has come public recently, talking about her struggle with weight loss stating: “Weight fluctuations occupied five decades of space in my brain, yo-yoing and feeling like why can’t I just conquer this thing, believing willpower was my failing.” 

So what does this have to do with Parkinson’s disease and speech?

Motor speech problems are common for people with Parkinson’s disease, and in fact, it’s estimated that during the course of the disease at least 90% of PWP will experience motor speech symptoms and likely be referred or self-refer for speech therapy. And, while speech therapy can be helpful, and 30 or more days of treatment can yield a positive outcome for most, maintaining the improvements after therapy takes vigilance and self-monitoring, a task that some will find difficult if not impossible to sustain, leaving them like Oprah feeling “shame and blame.”

SpeechVive a Device Intervention Can Provide Immediate Improvement for Some PWP 

Speech Vive, developed by Jessica Huber, PhD, a Speech-Language Pathologist and Researcher at Purdue, is a programmable and voice-activated wearable device that plays multi-talker noise in one ear while the user is speaking and turns off when not speaking. This form of auditory masking elicits the Lombard reflex, an automatic response that causes the wearer to speak at a more normal level of loudness. Because it happens automatically, there is NOTHING to think about. Just like DBS (deep brain stimulation) can improve motor function for PWP, a wearable device like SpeechVive can provide improved speech production, allowing users to participate more easily in everyday conversation.

Does it eliminate the need for speech therapy?

SpeechVive is one other evidence- based option, along with behavioral interventions like LSVT LOUD and Speak OUT!, that is available for individuals seeking help with improving their speech. For those individuals that elect to obtain a SpeechVive, direct speech therapy may still be necessary and helpful to address dysphagia (swallowing) or cognitive-linguistic symptoms. And, participation in after-therapy classes such as LOUD for Life or Voice Aerobics® may be helpful for maintaining speech therapy benefits. I recommend to my own patients using the SpeechVive to continue to perform the core exercises they learned in therapy, and at home to use their Hi-VOLT® light so that they continue to practice at a high enough level of effort to maintain a strengthening effect.

Whether you elect to enroll in speech therapy or obtain a SpeechVive device, keep in mind what Oprah stresses: ” it has not been a magic bullet or singular solution it’s everything,” she says of her all-encompassing health and fitness routine. “I know that if I’m not also working out and vigilant about all the other things, it doesn’t work for me.” In the end, she shared, “It was a second shot for me to live a more vital and vibrant life.”

For those of you living with Parkinson’s disease, you know that it is a relentless disease. And, for every day that you are doing nothing to manage symptoms, PD is doing something. Requesting early referral to speech therapy and taking advantage of all that  becomes available will hopefully help you, too, to continue to live a vibrant life.

Want to learn more about SpeechVive? Visit their website: https://www.speechvive.com/

To Learn more about Voice Aerobics products or to order a  Hi-VOLT® light, visit the webpage: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/

Meet Mary and learn more about SpeechVive and other topics related to PD at the 2024 SW Parkinson’s Symposium Friday April 12, 2024, Lubbock, Texas https://www.swparkinson.org/symposium

 

 

Mary Spremulli,MA,CCC-SLP

My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower.  * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice * CEOLS(Certified End of Life Specialist).

Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice