Over the last few years of owning a busy private practice, I have found it harder to find the time and energy to make it to the gym, so this year I purchased a Total Gym. I’m hoping that having a piece of equipment that provides a comprehensive work-out without leaving the house will help me get back into a routine. Of course, equipment is only part of the solution, I also need to create a habit and set some goals I’d like to achieve.
No doubt every person with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease has been told or has read that exercise is one of the most important things available for neuroprotection. And, even after a course of speech or physical therapy, which is after-all, a form of exercise, patients are advised to continue to practice on their own. But, when speaking to patients at support groups and conferences, I often hear a patient say that they stopped doing their speech and voice practice, offering up reasons that include: “ too busy, too tired, too boring, too many doctor appointments or other commitments. “
When you look at the literature about exercise in the general population, some estimates say that nearly 2/3 of adults in the US set fitness goals as a part of their New Year’s resolution, and yet 73% give up before meeting their goals.
Time and difficulty following an exercise program are among the top reasons why people give up.
Motivation, planning and social support are keys to success.
Below are some suggestions that may help you maintain the improvements you made during speech therapy and stay motivated to practice.
- If available, join a weekly speech class, such as Voice Aerobics®, The LOUD Crowd®, or LOUD for Life. A weekly speech class of guided practice can help re-enforce the principles learned during treatment, and provide a great venue for peer support and motivation.
- Utilize a home-based guided program. Just as my Total Gym comes packaged with an instructional DVD, you may benefit from using a DVD or app that can help you practice without having to remember specific instructions. The Voice Aerobics® DVD, LSVT® Homework Helper, and Speak Up for Parkinson app, are all guided programs that can be used without ever leaving your home.
- Enlist the help of a friend. If you attend a local Parkinson’s support group, ask around if there is someone who would like to get together once a week and complete some speech and voice practice.
- Consider online coaching. Did you know that at Voice Aerobics, we offer online coaching? You can schedule one visit to obtain guidance in using a product or program, or schedule several visits. Although Medicare and most insurance do not yet pay for Telepractice, affordably priced online therapy can benefit people who live far from a speech therapy provider.
Low voice from Parkinson’s? Incorporate speech practice into everyday activities.
Speech Practice ADL’s (All Day Long)
The following suggestions may help you practice:
- Before getting out of bed in the morning, sit on the edge of the bed and couple upper body stretches with a set of 10 vocal glides.
- When walking from one room of the house to another, focus on big steps. How many steps will it take you to go from the bedroom to the kitchen? Count those steps out loud and use your Hi-VOLT bracelet for feedback.
- When getting up or pushing up from a chair, vocalize an “ah” and hold it for 10 seconds. Even better, push up from 10 seated surfaces in your house while vocalizing “ah.”
- Read aloud for 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes every week until you are reading out loud 30 minutes a day. But, wait, add the Hi-VOLT® voice-activated light to your reading and get the benefit of concurrent feedback and targeted training. When reading aloud, I suggest you position the Hi-VOLT 13 ” from your body, and then, just speak loud enough to activate the light. You should feel like you got a good workout, but your voice and throat should never hurt, feel sore or scratchy. Always practice with good technique.
Still Not Sure What to Read?
- Recently I discovered a great website provided by Sean Banville, offering over 400 hundred reading passages that are only 45-60seconds long depending on your reading speed. Although these were developed for English as second language learners, they are perfect for daily practice. Sean has some other sites with over 4,000 lessons to keep you reading without excuses. Visit Scott’s site here: https://listenaminute.com/
- When you are a passenger in the car read road signs. Read license plates out loud and then close your eyes and say it backward. If you have a Hi-VOLT® voice-on-light bracelet use it for feedback to gauge your loudness.
Take every opportunity you can to improve and maintain your communication abilities. But, most of all, remember, you don’t have to go it alone, and it CAN be Fun!
Explore the Voice Aerobics family of products.
Voice Aerobics® DVD provides 57 minutes of guided voice practice coupled with movement. All of the exercises can be completed sitting. Practice alone or in a group. Purchase the DVD for only $20. Download to your computer or tablet or rent. It’s Fun! It’s Easy!
To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower.
Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP
ATTENTION: Due to a family health emergency, i am out of the office until January 1,2019. If you have placed a recent order there may be a delay in shipping until after that time. I apologize for any inconvenience ths may cause anyone, and due to the delay, domestic shipping costs will be refunded at the time the order is completed. Thank you in advance for your patience.
Thanks, Roger, creating the practice habit and peer support are powerful tools for reaching exercise goals which may include improving speech and swallowing
Good suggestions Mary.