Think: Teaching Parkinson's Patients To Talk | KERA News

Think: Teaching Parkinson's Patients To Talk

Jul 24, 2014

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People with Parkinson’s Disease struggle with movements that used to be automatic. That includes walking, blinking and speaking. Today on Think, a speech-language pathologist talked to Krys Boyd about a North Texas program that’s helping Parkinson’s patients regain the ability to speak.

Samatha Elandary says problems for Parkinson’s patients start with a shortage of dopamine in the brain.

“In terms of the voice, they are breathing more shallowly," she said. "And when they do that, what ends up happening is their voice becomes very soft. And it can be raspy, and they’re not moving their tongue and lips as much, so their articulation is not as clear.”

Elandary teaches participants in the Parkinson Voice Project to speak with intent.

“So when they use intent … they take deeper breaths, they increase their volume, they move their tongue and lips more so their articulation is better.”

The results can be profound. Here’s a 75-year-old patient speaking with a therapist before treatment:

Here’s the same patient after completing the program.

Parkinson’s is one of the few neurological disorders that responds to exercise. That’s because the disease interrupts the connection to the muscles, but the muscles aren’t weakened. They just need to be retrained.

Think re-airs tonight at 9, or find the podcast at kera.org/think.