Alicia Spinelli, MS, CCC-SLP-CBIS
Alicia Spinelli is particularly interested in voice therapy and recently went to Texas to become certified in a program called SPEAK OUT!
SPEAK OUT! is designed to help people with Parkinson’s disease communicate more clearly by speaking with intent or speaking loudly. Parkinson’s disease is caused by a lack of dopamine, a substance that controls autonomic behaviors like breathing and swallowing and some other muscle movements. People with Parkinson’s have weakness and a decrease in loudness when speaking, but are not aware of the decrease. They believe they are speaking normally.
The SPEAK OUT! program teaches them to overcome these decreases by using exaggerated speech, increased vocal loudness, and cognitive exercises.
They are taught to speak with intent, to plan what they are going to say. The program involves using a sound level meter that shows how loudly they are speaking, providing visual feedback to the patient.
Patients in the program must be able to follow simple commands and tolerate the 40 minute sessions.
“The patients have 25 lessons”, explains Alicia. “They come here 1 or 2 times per week, and each lesson is performed twice per day. After the 25 lessons, they come back once a month to reinforce what they have learned.”