UAB's Spain Rehabilitation Center is offering a unique speech-therapy program for people with Parkinson disease. The therapy, called Lee Silverman Voice Training (LSVT), has been scientifically shown to restore oral communication in individuals with Parkinson disease beyond what current pharmacological and surgical interventions are able to provide.

"Many PD patients have trouble with communication," said Jamie Wade, speech clinical coordinator. "Their volume often is diminished, and they tend to speak in a monotone with imprecise articulation. This contributes to limitations in communication for nearly 90 percent of people with PD."

LSVT is an intense therapy, comprising 16 visits in four weeks. Therapists and patients work on "thinking loud," trying to boost volume in everyday speech. According to the LSVT Foundation, this acts as a trigger to increase effort and coordination across the speech-production system and it is a simple, easily performed task for individuals with neurological disorders who often have difficulty with complex directions.

"LSVT gives PD patients their voices back," Wade said, "which provides a tremendous confidence boost and greatly improves quality of life in both the home and the workplace."

The LSVT Foundation says studies have shown the results of the therapy persist for more than two years and patients are more effective and emotionally engaged communicators after LSVT.