Parkinson’s Voice Problems – How to help

What’s the best voice treatment for Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease affects  nearly one million people in the United States.

One of the early signs of Parkinson’s is a change in voice.  The voice may become soft or hoarse.  It’s a common symptom early in the disease and worsens as the disease progresses.  A soft voice can make it difficult to do common daily activities like have a conversation, give a presentation, or order a cup of coffee.

Speech Therapy can help improve the strength, loudness, and clarity of your voice.

Key: For voice treatment for Parkinson’s, early is better! Learn your exercises and strategies early to help maintain a strong voice to help you be heard!


Two speech therapy programs are well-researched for Parkinson’s Disease:  Lee-Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT-LOUD) and SPEAK OUT! from Parkinson Voice Project.

SPEAK OUT! focuses on the concept of intent.  SPEAK OUT! strengthens the muscles used for speaking and swallowing and places emphasis on speaking with intent and converting speech from an automatic function to an intentional act.  In therapy, we work through a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises outlined in the free SPEAK OUT! Workbook.

LSVT LOUD focuses on the concept of re-calibrating your sensory system and using a loud voice. People with Parkinson’s often don’t realize their voice is quieter and less effective than “normal”.  When they speak with their habitual effort, the voice is soft, often not effective to communicate.  Because it takes more effort to use a strong clear voice, a person with Parkinson’s often feels that they are shouting if they are using a “normal” loudness.  The protocol helps to normalize that effort to help the client always use their “Loud” effective voice.

How do you decide – SPEAK OUT! vs LSVT voice programs?

comparison chart of LSVT vs Speak out!


Both programs are EFFECTIVE and supported by research.

Both treatments require the SLP to be specifically trained in the approach.

Both are usually covered by Medicare part B.

Both treatment options require intense effort and ongoing practice during treatment as well as after.

Both treatments also recommend periodic “tune-up” therapy sessions as needed every 6-12 months to maintain the strong clear voice.

Which voice program for Parkinson’s is right for you?

It depends on multiple factors. Find a Speech Pathologist with experience in Parkinson’s disease, and who’s trained in several programs. Your SLP will help you decided which voice treatment plan will be more effective in your individual situation.

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