Pump up the volume – Training my Parkinson’s brain to think LOUD

I’ve always been fairly softly spoken. What I didn’t know before is that one of the many possible symptoms of Parkinson’s is a quieter voice, and this is something which has affected me. This year I’ve had speech therapy in the form of the ‘Lee Silverman Voice Treatment’ also called LSVT LOUD. This is an intensive programme designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s. It helps people like me to recognise that their voice is too quiet and trains them to speak louder.

Over time, my voice has got softer without me even realising. LSVT teaches you to ‘think LOUD’ and to learn how much extra effort you need to put in to make your voice a normal volume. It’s very repetitive, which is probably the only way to really learn something – so it (hopefully) over time becomes more of a habit, rather than a constant effort.

The therapy lasts for four weeks. It involves four sessions each week with an LSVT trained speech therapist, with ‘homework’ every day and extra homework on non-session days. So it was hard work and I had to put in a lot of effort into being louder. For those four weeks of therapy I decided to focus on getting the most from this opportunity – thinking loud, practising as much as possible and doing my homework every day. This took up a lot of my energy, which meant that I didn’t have the energy to do some other things during those few weeks. However, I felt it was important to put as much effort in as possible and really do my best. It’s like a lot of things in life, we are often given tools to help us or taught how to do something, but it’s not our therapist or teacher who can make it work. We have to put in the effort ourselves to get the results.

I definitely felt it helped me to ‘think loud’ and therefore speak louder. My volume stats before and after showed an improvement and my family, friends and colleagues also noticed I was louder.

It’s now been about a month since I completed the LSVT LOUD therapy. Straight after I finished, I was full of good intentions of continuing my exercises every day. However, I must admit this dwindled quite quickly. There’s always so much going on and other things to do. I have recently started my exercises again and almost immediately, I started to think and feel louder. And it didn’t feel as much effort as before, which I believe is because of the intense repetition involved in the therapy. Practice makes louder!

I think it’s fascinating how the brain works, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have this therapy. It’s good to know that some Parkinson’s symptoms can be eased by therapy treatments and not just medication.

I’d like to say a big LOUD THANK YOU to my LSVT speech therapist Claire for all her support and encouragement.

More information about speech therapy – including LSVT is available on the Parkinson’s UK website at: https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/speech-and-language-therapy

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