Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that slowly progresses over time. The first signs of the disease can be small, and unnoticeable at first. It may be a small tremor in your hand or a loss of expression in your face. As the disease progresses many of the people affected begin to notice an effect on their speech. Some may notice their voice gets softer and monotone, slower and slurred, and can have a hard time finding the words they want to say. The cause of this disease is usually genetic, but in some cases, it can occur because of exposure to certain toxins. The symptoms start to occur at an older age, usually when people are in their sixties.

What Is Happening To The Body

Parkinson’s mainly affects a part of the brain called the substantia nigra pars compacta. In this part of the brain, neurons are producing dopamine, which transmits signals to other parts of the brain. When Parkinson’s occurs these neurons are damaged which reduces the amount of dopamine produced. The decrease in dopamine is causing the movements to be slower and less smooth. These side effects are seen in the movement of the face and mouth muscles, which is how speech is produced.

How Speech Is Affected

When Parkinson’s is developing, other speech changes can occur as well. Some can affect the tone and rate of speech. Hypophonia can cause a person’s speech to be softer, due to the muscles in the face weakening. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Tachyphemia can occur. This causes speech to be excessively fast, which can be hard for people to understand. Dysarthria is another effect that can occur, which is classified as a motor speech disorder. Parkinson’s affects the muscles in the face that are required for speech. These disorders begin to develop because as the disease progresses, the nerves in the brain and body are being affected.

What Can Be Done To Help

Those who have Parkinson’s have gone their whole lives with perfect speech, and now in their sixties, they must learn how to cope with the disease and speak again. As people begin to have problems with their speech, it is common that they begin speech therapy. Speech Language Pathologists can work with them to identify problems and find a solution. Along with therapy, many Speech Easy devices are recommended to help with the stuttering and get their speech back to normal.

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