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Voice treatment in Parkinson’s disease: patient perspectives

Authors Gillivan-Murphy P, Miller N, Carding P

Received 2 March 2019

Accepted for publication 1 May 2019

Published 3 July 2019 Volume 2019:9 Pages 29—42

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPRLS.S180183

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Peter Hedera


Patricia Gillivan-Murphy,1 Nick Miller,2 Paul Carding3

1Speech and Language Therapy Department, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland; 2Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, Speech and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK; 3Midwifery and Allied Health Research, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Institute of Nursing, Oxford, UK

Abstract: Speech and voice changes are a central feature of the symptom complex of people with Parkinson’s disease (pwPD). Speaking is a social activity involving the pwPD, family, and the wider communicative context. Sensory-motor, cognitive-linguistic, and affective changes in Parkinson’s disease (PD) combine to alter communication, impacting on psycho-social quality-of-life, leading to risks of social withdrawal and increased depression and anxiety. The underlying pathophysiology of speech, voice, and communication difficulties in pwPD is multi-factorial and complex. Sensory-motor changes in the respiratory, phonatory, and articulatory subsystems, underscaling of effort, and central processing problems are further affected by broader cognitive-linguistic difficulties, and non-speech motor deficits. Many studies show that, when pwPD are asked to rate their own voice and how it functions in everyday situations, they show increased voice-related disability and negative impact relative to healthy controls. Voice treatment is integral to improving communication in pwPD. Studies show positive benefits from the perspective of pwPD and carers. Treatment approaches vary from one-to-one to group interventions, a singular focus on increasing loudness to more general voice exercises, and choral singing. The nature and underlying pathophysiology of speech, voice, and communication changes in pwPD are reviewed before exploring the effects of voice treatment programs and pwPD and carer perceptions of their effect. Larger scale, better powered, controlled trials of intervention for voice and speech that measure clinically and socially relevant outcomes are finally underway. Future research should also focus on issues of treatment compliance, practicality (for service delivery and use), and long-term follow-up outcomes. The role of carers in longer-term maintenance represents a further important area of exploration.

Keywords: voice, speech, treatment, quality-of-life, patient perspectives

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