A therapy originally developed for patients of Parkinson's Disease also helps victims of stroke and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) regain normal speech, a new study has found.
Doctoral student Rachel Wenke of University of Queensland (UQ) has shown how the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) therapy could be an answer to patients who suffer from dysarthria, a speech disorder which impairs a person's ability to communicate, making it sound as if they have slurred or unclear speech.
It affects 75 percent of Parkinson's patients, up to 30 percent of stroke victims and about 60 percent of individuals with TBI.
The LSVT programme is an intensive therapy administered one hour a day, four days a week for four weeks. The patients are trained to use loud speech in progressively more difficult speech tasks.
The programme was originally designed to assist Parkinson's patients, and Wenke is the first to try out the method in a group study involving other neurological conditions.
The effectiveness of LSVT was compared with traditional dysarthria therapy for 26 participants ranging from 18 to 88 years who had experienced stroke and TBI.
The findings revealed that participants who received the LSVT demonstrated positive effects of a louder and clearer voice and slower rate of speech.
Many participants also reported increased confidence in their ability to communicate which significantly improved their quality of life and well-being, said an UQ release.
"For instance, after receiving the treatment, one participant reported that the quality of his relationship with his wife had actually improved because his wife could now understand him, whereas before treatment, they would hardly communicate," Wenke said.
"My findings have also shown that people who lived with dysarthria for up to 21 years were able to make improvements following treatment," she said.
These findings are slated for publication in Brain Injury and the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.