My Experience with the LSVT LOUD Program

I am a runner and a hockey player. I play guitar and can carry a tune. I love debating philosophy and politics, and for a living, I start companies, then sell them off to a capable management team. I also mentor young professionals and speak at local PD support groups on the subject of "PD induced depression."

One by one I have watched attributes that define me, disappear, taken by Parkinson's disease, which I have had for 12 years. I'm now 67 years old so not playing hockey or running long distances isn't that big a problem. Not being able to play my guitar because of the loss of finger dexterity is very rough on my psyche. Not being able to communicate with others, whether in song or ordinary conversation; that is traumatic.

Losing the volume in my voice

Slowly, over the past few years, I have lost the volume in my voice. Worse, my annunciation is eroding. I slur when I speak, and there are times when I am incomprehensible. I can't honestly point to one particular cause, like a medication change or a DBS adjustment.

As a runner, I always thought my strong legs would give my heart and lungs the workout they required to keep me healthy and active for a long time. Surprise, surprise! When the brain stops talking to the legs, as often happens with Parkinson's, manifesting as PD induced peripheral neuropathy, then one's heart and lungs suffer, regardless of how strong the legs are.

It turns out the same is true with speech. When the larynx and certain other throat and facial muscles don't get the message from the brain, what comes out of the mouth is word salad.

So I joined the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program

This is where Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) comes in. Since 1987, LSVT "LOUD" certified trainers, have helped Parkies detect and increase low speech volume, and improved annunciation.

The course is intense, comprised of sixteen one-hour sessions in four weeks, directed by LSVT certified voice trainers. In advance of this training, I was examined by an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor to make sure my current throat muscles could stand the rigor of the program. It turns out my throat muscles are just fine. I knew that before I was examined because I speak perfectly in the mornings before I ingest my first of six rounds of Rytary throughout the day.

The same drugs that make movement easier, control tremor, and relieve pain, are somehow complicit in the daily deterioration of my speech. I can sing at breakfast, but can't even carry on a decent dinner conversation anymore.

My hope for the future

I just started the program, so I hope to have updates soon with how it works. So far so good, though. My hope is that this program will help me regain my ability to communicate with the world.

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