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What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that can affect anyone. Parkinson's is the second most common neurological condition and latest research estimates indicates that more than 100,000 Australians are living with Parkinson's. Parkinson's is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms start to appear when the brain can't make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

It is not easy to diagnose Parkinson’s. Often a diagnosis is made by a specialist, such as a neurologist based on clinical signs and symptoms. The specialist will examine for any physical signs of Parkinson’s and take a detailed history of symptoms.​

Parkinson's can present with a variety of symptoms, such as:

Typical motor symptoms:

  • Stiffness (muscle rigidity)

  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)

  • Resting tremor

  • Balance and coordination difficulties (usually occurs later in the disease)

old couple
  • More than 7 million people are living with Parkinson’s worldwide

  • 90% of people with Parkinson’s have disordered speech and voice

  • Only 3 to 4% receive speech therapy


Non-motor symptoms may include:

  • Sleep disorders

  • Pain

  • Sensory changes

  • Constipation and continence issues

  • Mood Disturbance e.g Depression

  • Cognitive issues e.g. memory issues

Other physical changes include:

  • Speech problems - speaking in a soft monotone voice and sometimes slurring words or mumbling

  • Swallowing problems - choking, coughing and clearing throat when eating or drinking

  • Drooling

  • Vision changes

  • Weight changes.

What therapy does a speech pathologist do?

Treatment for Parkinson's involves a combination of different therapies that are dependent of the management of symptoms, unique to each individual. These can include:

  • Prescribed Medication

  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS), Focused Ultrasound.

  • Allied Health therapies including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Dietetics, Psychology and Social Work.

Visit the below sites to find more information about Parkinson’s disease:

“Stories are really important because they provide the fundamental essence of being human. We are our stories” - Professor Annalu Waller OBE


“The way we communicate with others and ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives”Anthony Robbins

Speech and swallowing changes can interfere with communication and eating, which can be isolating and harmful.


90% of people with Parkinson’s are at risk of developing a weak voice that can lead to serious speech and swallowing difficulties.


Programs and treatment strategies delivered by a speech therapist may help strengthen your voice and improve swallowing, boosting confidence and health.

A speech therapist can help you maintain and improve communication skills, as well as teach you ways to chew and swallow to ease symptoms.

Introducing voice therapy for people with Parkinson's and Parkinsonian-type disease

I have Parkinson's Disease - When should I begin seeing a speech therapist?

According to studies, up to 89% of people with Parkinson’s Disease develop difficulty communicating and up to 95% develop difficulty swallowing. To postpone and prevent this decline, it is optimal to begin speech therapy as soon as possible.


Participation in SPEAK OUT!®SPEAK OUT!® Group can change the effects that Parkinson’s Disease has on your voice. Muscles become weak because they are not used to their full capacity, not because Parkinson’s is making them weak. SPEAK OUT!®SPEAK OUT!® Group requires you to use the muscles for speaking and swallowing to their full potential to prevent decline.

Psychology Appointment

SPEAK OUT!® is a therapy regime tailored to people with Parkinson’s Disease to improve their voicing, and in turn, their swallowing.

In this program, speech is transformed from an automatic function to an intentional task.

SPEAK OUT!® is usually completed in 8 sessions spanning four weeks, and then the client transitions to SPEAK OUT!® Group.

In this four-week span, clients report improvement in their speaking, and their ability to be heard, and their overall quality of life.

Support Group Meeting

The SPEAK OUT!® Group is the group therapy portion of the program and meets weekly. The sessions provide maintenance for skills obtained during SPEAK OUT!® and are a source of camaraderie for the members.

The SPEAK OUT!® & SPEAK OUT!® Group therapy regimens were developed at Parkinson Voice Project in Texas, USA.  You can visit their website HERE.

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