The Effects of Intensive Lower Limb Training on the Speech of Patients with Parkinson's Disease

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Brigham Young University - Provo

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Allen, Lauren Fjeldsted
Brigham Young University - Provo
Parkinson's disease; physical therapy; speech; voice; RENEW; Communication Sciences and Disorders
thesis / dissertation description
Research has documented the positive effects of physical therapy as a treatment for limb motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). Previous studies have shown that speech and voice measures can be reflective of overall cardiovascular health and fitness in young, middle-aged, and older adults. In healthy individuals, increased respiratory drive has been found to influence vocal function and speech articulation. The rationale for the present study was that improved lower limb function might lead to improvements in overall fitness, which then may influence speech in individuals with Parkinson's disease. To investigate this premise, 10 participants diagnosed with mild to moderate idiopathic PD were involved in an intensive lower limb training program called Resistance Exercise via Negative-Eccentric Work (RENEW). The speech of the participants was recorded before and after the RENEW treatment in both medication-on and medication-off conditions. Following treatment there was a statistically significant increase in spirantization of the stop gap in DDK repetition in the medication-on condition and a decrease in diphthong duration in the medication-off condition. After treatment in the medication-on condition there was an increase in spirantization and a reduction in first and second formant transitions for the diphthong /ɔI/ compared to the medication-off condition. These results represented a slight worsening of articulatory precision and movement following treatment in response to PD medication. Overall, the present study found that intensive lower limb training did not influence the acoustic measures of speech articulation examined in the present study.