“The voice is like a gem with facets reflecting multiple scientific disciplines and practical and artistic concerns. Both humans and animals depend heavily on vocal communication, so voice science incorporates physiology, biology and bioacoustics. The voice provides the main tool for both semantic and emotional communication, and is therefore relevant to auditory perception, psychology, neurology, cognition, linguistics and phonetics. A functioning voice is highly significant to quality of life” (From the Misson Statement World Voice Day: American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery). The World Voice Day was established on April 16th with the main goals of increasing public awareness of the importance of the voice and alertness to voice problems.
“A functioning voice is highly significant to quality of life”
It has been estimated that anywhere from 70-90% of persons with Parkinson’s have speech and voice problems, collectively referred to as hypokinetic dysarthria. Problems of reduced loudness, reduced effort, and inaccurate feedback, are related to a breakdown in the multisensory integration in our brain. Like the driver who misjudges his speed as too slow, many persons with Parkinson’s mis-judge their voice and vocal effort, often reporting that their very soft speech is “loud enough” or even “too loud, when they are cued to use vocal intensity which is within the normal range. The pathophysiology underlying this impairment in internal cueing is only partially understood, but some speech studies indicate that different cueing mechanisms are located in different regions of the brain, with internally generated movements involving the basal ganglia, and frequently disrupted in Parkinson’s. This internal cueing deficit can often be improved in response to external cueing such as when one is asked to speak “twice as loud,” or when providing feedback from a sound level meter or a Hi-VOLT® light. The externally cued movements movements activate a different, unaffected area of the brain.
Since speech and voice tend to improve dramatically in response to external cueing, a simple external cueing device, Hi-VOLT® 4 PD voice-on-light was developed in 2015.
The Hi-VOLT® 4 PD voice-on-light is, a portable, calibrated, voice activated bracelet that only requires the user to speak loud enough to activate the light. This type of feedback may help patients at home who are able to attain a louder voice in therapy, only to lose the effect once they leave the treatment room or are back home in their own environment. This is not because of lack of effort on the part of any person, but rather, it is simply the challenge of trying to compensate for a speech mechanism that has been changed, or is changing due to Parkinson’s. For some individuals with Parkinson’s, slowness in thinking (bradyphenia) or mild dementia make the demands of conversational speech somewhat overwhelming, and external cueing for adequate loudness can help to maximize the benefit of home speech practice.
If you are someone with a soft voice due to Parkinson’s, and despite speech therapy or other efforts, you still find it difficult to maintain adequate loudness, I invite you to give the Hi-VOLT® voice-on-light a try. The device is not meant to be used all day long, but rather during your home practice sessions when the feedback may help you in attaining a level of effort and loudness to strengthen your voice for all day use. The Hi-VOLT® 4 PD audio CD is a companion product providing fun guided practice.
Telepractice Visits are Available
Would you like to obtain speech, voice, or swallowing therapy without leaving home? If you answered “yes” you may want to investigate Telepractice and Online Coaching. I have been offering help to individuals using this format for years and find in most instances it can be as effective as in person visits. Using your home computer or tablet device you can connect with me for an assessment, treatment, or coaching, including help with use of any Voice Aerobics product. If you are no longer driving, this can reduce dependency on a spouse for travel to therapy and put the power and benefit from treatment in your hands. I currently am licensed to provide services to people living in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. Learn more or contact me: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/voice-aerobics-private-practice/
In Honor of World Voice Day Take A Few Minutes to Warm-up Your Voice Voice Aerobics® the Original Whole Body Voice Exercise Program
My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice
Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice