Hope for those finding a voice with Parkinson's disease

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:30 pm | Updated: 8:52 pm, Mon Sep 9, 2013.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological disorder that can cause debilitating tremors. it can strike at any time with symptoms often occurring first on one side of your body. but, there is hope as research continues to find that there are ways to slow the progression of the disease.

Now, Linda Ronstadt statement that she cant sing a note has identified another issue that those diagnosed may have to deal with.

"We've had many patients that have had to quit doing things in a professional manner like singing or if you play a woodwind instrument," Said Dean Sutherland, M.D., Ph.D of Southeastern Center for Parkinson Disease in Sarasota. "The neurotransmitter dopamine which helps facilitate motor activity, like stepping, moving your limbs, talking and breathing is missing in people with Parkinson's." He said. "The diaphragm controls basically how loud you speak and Parkinson's affects the diaphragm for that reason." He explained.

Research finds dopamine pathways of patient who exercise are stimulated much the same as those taking medication for Parkinson's, and there are programs that may benefit those whose voice is affected by the disease.

Larry Hoffheimer, chairman of the board and founder of the Parkinson Research Foundation in Sarasota said, "We have voice aerobics, which is really to help people who have a difficult time speaking with Parkinson's disease."

A medical speech, language pathologist teaches the free class, one of many offered through The Parkinson Research Foundation here on the Suncoast.

Hoffheimer explained, "They learn how to use their lungs as well as their vocal cords in order to get more volume out of their speech, and its had amazing success."

Another local program recommended by Dr. Sutherland, benefiting Parkinson's patients with speech problems is Lee Silverman voice training.  "It involves trying to do a number of exercises, singing, a lot of things that have to do with movement of the tongue, with a speech therapist." Said Dr. Sutherland.

Hoffheimer is an advocate of the voice aerobics program. He concluded, "There are people in here that couldn't speak at all, that are now speaking and they are so excited."

There are FREE programs to support, inform and guide people with Parkinson's disease here in our community.

YOUR Health and Wellness News

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Featured Health Care Providers Sponsored directory


Michael J. Dattoli, MD

View Profile >


F. Michael Crouch, M.D.

View Profile >


John T. Moor, MD

View Profile >


Jack E. Baron, MD

View Profile >


Dr. Sarah Kagan, PhD, RN, FAAN

View Profile >


Gerald Grubbs, MD

View Profile >


Send your photos & videos to Pix@MySuncoast.com and you could be featured on ABC 7 & our website.