Research from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, shows an intensive voice therapy treatment may be beneficial for for dysarthria patients suffering from stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

PhD graduate Dr Rachel Wenke demonstrates in a recent study that the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment® may be an effective treatment option. Dysarthria is a speech disorder that negatively affects a person’s ability to communicate as they can be difficult to understand and may sound like they have slurred or unclear speech.

The disorder affects 75% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease, up to 30% of those who have experienced a stroke, and about 60% of individuals with TBI, according to the researchers.

The LSVT program is an intensive therapy administered 1 hour a day, four days a week for 4 weeks. The patients are trained to use loud speech in progressively more difficult speech tasks.The program was originally designed to assist Parkinson’s patients, and Wenke is the first to trial the method’s effectiveness in a group study involving other neurological conditions, the University says.

“This research will also help to provide speech pathologists evidence for treatments for the disorder, which may also encourage further research in the area,” Wenke says.

In the study, 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 showed 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.

“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 says. “My findings have also shown that people who lived with dysarthria for up to 21 years were able to make improvements following treatment, therefore the mindset of not treating patients who have not improved in 1 or 2 years should be challenged.”

Wenke’s research will be published in Brain Injury and the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.

[Source: University of Queensland]