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This Could Help Treat ‘Voice Problems’ in People With Parkinson’s Disease, According to New Study

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Parkinson’s is a deteriorating condition, often referred to as a progressive neurological disease, as it progressively impairs brain function and progressively worsens with time.

The root of the symptoms lies in the spontaneous death of nerve cells in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. These particular cells are tasked with producing dopamine, a brain chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter, serving as a communication bridge between various parts of the brain.

The absence of dopamine can lead to numerous complications, with the most recognizable being movement-related issues, such as trembling, slow movement, muscle rigidity and stiffness, and, in advanced stages of the disease, instability resulting in falls and a sense of imbalance.

Various cognitive symptoms are also linked to the lack of dopamine, such as difficulties in planning, working memory, and attention. Furthermore, speech and voice disorders are frequently observed in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease: Let’s Have Singing On Prescription

According to recent research in the International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, a telerehabilitation program incorporating traditional speech therapy along with singing might help alleviate voice-related issues in patients.

In this study, 33 Parkinson’s patients were randomly distributed to receive combined therapy, traditional speech therapy, or a singing-based treatment. Each participant underwent 12 telerehabilitation sessions spanning over four weeks.

Voice-related evaluations were conducted a week before the first therapy session, a week following the final therapy session, and three months after the last assessment.

The findings revealed substantial progress in all three groups in all outcome measures over time. Those in the combined therapy or speech therapy groups experienced a larger increase in voice intensity and a metric known as the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) than those in the singing intervention group. (The VHI quantifies the patients’ self-perception of the impact of their voice disorder.)

Additionally, the combined therapy yielded significantly greater improvements in VHI, maximum frequency range, and shimmer when compared with either singing or speech therapy alone.

“Tele-rehabilitation combination therapy is an inexpensive and enjoyable behavioral treatment,” write the authors. “The advantages of this method are that it is easy to access, appropriate for many stages of voice problems in Parkinson’s disease, requires no prior singing training, encourages voice health and self-management, and maximizes treatment resources available to people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Source: 10.1111/1460-6984.12900

Image Credit: Getty

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