Speak Up for Parkinson's 2019

“Raise the Voice for Parkinson's!”, World PD Day 2019

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Voice changes are one of the many symptoms that over time can affect people with Parkinson's illness. This illness has namely been associated with motor symptoms, but to broaden one’s knowledge on the challenges these patients have to face regularly means improving their support.

Sometimes we tend to forget the power of our voices and how they can change the world. The power to ask questions and tell our stories. The power to reach out to the hearts of others and change them.

And even when the voices of patients with Parkinson's become weaker, ours will become stronger for them.

Make everyone listen. Give Parkinson's a voice.
Spread the word now, your voice is important. 

How is voice affected by Parkinson's Disease? Know more by hearing specialists' Voices

What vocal problems are related with parkinson's disease?


How can speech therapy help?


How voice changes may affect relations with others?


How can caregivers help parkinson's patients overcome their speech problems?


How can voice be affected by PD?

The movements of inhaling, vocal cord vibration and articulation of words are carried out by muscles which, due to this illness, may be slower, more rigid and trembling. Voice is the speech feature which is most frequently disturbed in PD, although there are others such as articulation, breathing, or resonance.

What are the most common changes in speech upon PD?

The most frequent changes are:

- Decrease in volume and expressiveness of the voice, a weak or hoarse voice;
- Inaccurate articulation of words;
- Change in the speech’s speed (faster or slower than usual);
- Stumble or repetition of syllables, as if "stuttering".

It is also common for people with PD to feel that their voice "fails" while talking or when they feel tired, during or after longer conversations.

A decrease of the volume is the most common change in the voice upon PD and it is quite frequent that the person isn’t aware of this. For instance, it’s common for the person with PD to justify their family or friends’ requests for repetition as a consequence of their hearing loss or the surrounding noise, not acknowledging that the low volume of their own voice is actually the cause for the difficulty in understanding what is said.

What to do to preserve the voice in DP?

- Use the voice! People with PD should try to maintain an active social life as this provides opportunities to use their voice. Joining a choral group also gives way to this opportunity; however, it may require a longer vocal warm-up and result in slower development than the rest of the group.

What to do when the voice is already different?

For some people, or at an advanced stage of the illness, maintaining an active social life is no longer possible or not enough to preserve their voice. A change in speech should be discussed with the doctor treating PD or with a speech therapist. There are specific techniques and exercises designed to approach voice changes in people with PD. These health professionals may advise you on the best approach to treat these changes. In this way, not only a change in voice volume will take place, but also an overall improvement in various features of speech. Additionally, reducing the surrounding noise or preferring face-to-face communication may also help.

Ferreira, J. e Vitorino, ML (coordenadores). Manual do Cuidador da Pessoa com Parkinson. 2018. Edição: CNS - Campus Neurológico.

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