Patient Story

LSVT LOUD Therapy Restores Patient’s Speech

“I feel a huge difference in my speech." - Diane Pence

Before she retired, 65-year-old Diane Pence worked as a case manager and loved it. She regularly spoke with colleagues at hospice and assisted living organizations that took care of people with end-stage diseases—that is, until she could barely speak at all.

Around 2018, Diane noticed a change in her speech that slowly worsened over time. She could no longer articulate her words clearly. The constant struggle to talk exhausted her and caused her to retire a year earlier than planned. After struggling to find answers and treatment, she was accurately diagnosed with Parkinsonism, a disorder that exhibits some but not all signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. She was referred to the LSVT LOUD program at Saint Luke’s East Hospital and found the care she needed.

Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) LOUD therapy program helps patients with Parkinson’s disease or similar neurological conditions improve their speech and voice. Patients work with a speech therapist to practice articulation, loudness, and pitch. Diane was paired with Saint Luke’s speech language pathologist Ronna Mullies.

“In Parkinson’s disease, articulation can become impaired and make the person sound like they’re mumbling or slurring their speech,” Ronna said. “Patients can also lose their pitches, which can make their speech more monotone. It can sound very robotic and unnatural.”

At first, Diane practiced her speech with Ronna by repeating common words and phrases in a loud, clear voice and worked her way up to reading full paragraphs out loud. Ronna says Diane has made excellent progress during the four-week program.

After graduating from LSVT LOUD, Diane has continued to practice vocal exercises to retain her newly restored speech.

“I feel a huge difference in my speech,” Diane said. “I’m so glad I did this. Most speech therapy programs meet a couple times a week, but this one does intensive treatments daily. It’s a lot of work, but doing it quickly makes you stronger and improves your confidence.”

Learn more about LSVT Therapies at Saint Luke’s – an evidence-based rehabilitation program offered at all Saint Luke’s hospitals to help improve voice quality and projection for patients with Parkinson’s disease or related neurological conditions.