West Herts pilot project offers voice hope to Parkinsons sufferers


People with Parkinsons living in Hemel Hempstead may be able to benefit from training to help them to improve their speaking, and make themselves understood.

One of the effects of Parkinsons can be the inability to speak loudly, speaking in a monotone, or with a hoarse voice, imprecise articulation and a lessened facial expression.

This can lead to misunderstandings and prejudice from others around them.

The branch already offers Find Your Voice singing groups which can help participants speak less quietly and more clearly, but now an intensive course of therapy is available.

Lee Silverman Voice Training has been helping people overcome difficulties with speaking for some years, but people have had to pay, or travel long distances.

Now a long-awaited pilot study is starting in West Herts for 16 people to receive the full Lee Silverman package including a one hour assessment, 16 hours of treatment, and a six-month follow up.

After four months, therapists will decide if anyone can do the training by Skype, which would allow numbers to be increased up to a maximum of 22.

It is hoped that the pilot study will lead to this type of training becoming a normal option.

The branch will also identify further funding streams to continue the work.

At the moment anyone referred for this treatment has to travel to London and the branch hopes this will make it easier for people to access the training locally.

The branch will also start a support group for people having the treatment so that they can continue to practice. Those taking part will be asked to fill in evaluation forms.

Branch secretary Richard Windle said: ‘Many people with Parkinsons get told to speak up, or speak more clearly. This training is proven to help people get their voice back.

“If you think you would benefit, ask your GP to refer you to the speech and language therapy department at the hospital for assessment for suitability for Lee Silverman Voice Training.’