RMH therapist helps Parkinson’s disease patients improve voice, speech

Posted 4/1/19

Rome Memorial Hospital Therapy Services now has a certified therapist to treat speech and voice disorders in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological disorders. Parkinson’s …

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RMH therapist helps Parkinson’s disease patients improve voice, speech

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Rome Memorial Hospital Therapy Services now has a certified therapist to treat speech and voice disorders in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological disorders.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Early symptoms include soft or slurred speech.

Speech-Language Pathologist, Melissa Flury, MS, CCC-SLP, holds an advanced certification from the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD) program, a one-on-one behavioral treatment that is customized to the unique communication goals of each individual. 

This research-based therapy has been documented to have a positive impact on individuals with PD on multiple levels including:

Increased vocal loudness

Improved articulation and speech intelligibility

Improved intonation

Improvements in facial expression.

“Communication seems to be the main concern of Parkinson’s disease patients and their families,” Flury said.

“April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and a perfect opportunity to let people know there is a treatment that specializes in maintaining their communication and loudness.”

“LSVT LOUD therapy improves communication by helping patients speak with a voice and volume that is easy for others to hear and understand,” she explained. “Treatments are customized to each person’s specific needs and goals, regardless of their stage or severity of condition.”

The treatment is built on tailored exercises that strengthen the voice box (larynx) and speech system. The main focus of the treatment is to “speak loud.” However, Flury added, it doesn’t teach you to shout. Instead, LSVT LOUD helps patients develop and become comfortable with a voice, without straining, she said, at a loudness that sounds normal to friends and family.

“Every patient with Parkinson disease will experience successes in different ways and at different times, said Flury. “We call the moment when a patient identifies what they are hearing in their speech and how they sound to others, the ‘Aha’ moment.”

“It’s wonderful to hear a patient say ‘my wife/husband can finally hear me’ or ‘I can finally have conversations with my family’.”

Another patient told Flury after therapy, ‘I never realized how quiet I was speaking’.

Flury is dedicated to helping patients remain independent by improving or maintaining their cognitive, swallowing and communication skills.

She became a member of Rome Memorial Hospital’s speech therapy services team in 2018, providing inpatient and outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic intervention to short-term rehabilitation patients, inpatients, long-term residents and outpatients. 

She earned her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the State University of New York College at Fredonia in 2015.

In addition to the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) certification, Flury earned certifications in AMPcare: Effective Swallowing Protocol (ESP) and Modified Barium Swallow Impairment Profile (MBSimp).

A physician’s order is required to make an appointment for LSVT therapy. The therapy is covered by most major medical insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid.

For more information, contact Rome Memorial Hospital’s Therapy Services department at 315-338-7154, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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