RICHARDSON, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, but with no cure, living with it can be helped by re-learning some simple things, like speaking up.
As a marine, 37-year-old Jason Arwine trained to fight a variety of enemies … but Parkinson’s disease wasn’t one of them.
The biological sneak attack first left a tremor in his hand, a slight limp … and then his voice got quiet.
“And I kind of say, I lost part of me. Being in the military I’m used to yelling and having people hear me,” Arwine told Ivanhoe.
Jason found his voice … and an ally … in the Parkinson voice project. Since Parkinson’s patients lose the ability to speak and to swallow, the projects two-part therapy includes pumping up patients’ voices to reach between 72 to 90 decibels, and coping with a crowd that’s loud.
Patients encourage each other to use their vocal muscles instead of losing them.
Samantha Elandary, MA, CCC-SLP, Founder and CEO of the Parkinson Voice Project said, “But when we ask them to speak with intent, to speak like you are the CEO of a company, then they automatically do everything that they need to in order to produce a clear and intelligible speaking voice.”
Jason’s wife, Heather, told Ivanhoe, “We’re going on kind of like normal people right now. We’re planning to buy a house and start a family, and do those things that normal couples do and normal couples that are young and still have a whole life in front of them.”
And thanks to the voice project, many Parkinson’s patients do.
Samantha Elandary’s non-profit program is being replicated around the country, helping to prevent aspiration pneumonia, the leading cause of death among Parkinson’s patients. The Parkinson voice project doesn’t charge patients. It’s funded through donations and a pay-it-forward concept.
Contributors to this news report include: Don Wall, Field Producer; Brogan Morris, Assistant Producer; Mark Montgomery, Videographer and Brent Sucher, Editor.
PARKINSON VOICE PROJECT SOUND OFF
BACKGROUND: Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressing neurodegenerative brain disorder. Many people live with this disease for years as their symptoms slowly progress. This happens when the brain is not producing enough dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that sends signals between an area of the brain, called the substantia nigra, and other parts of the brain. These signals control movements of the human body. There are neurons in the human brain that usually produce dopamine. These neurons concentrate in the substantia nigra. When sixty to eighty percent of the cells that produce dopamine are damaged and the brain is not producing enough dopamine is when the signs of Parkinson’s disease begin to appear. With this disease, the person loses the ability to control their movements, body and emotions. Although the disease itself is not fatal, complications from Parkinson’s are. Complications from this disease is rated the fourteenth top cause of death in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
THE STAGES: There are five typical stages of Parkinson’s disease.
Stage one: Mild symptoms, a slight tremor on one side of the body, and minor movement symptoms may also appear on one side of the body. People who know you well may also notice changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions.
Stage two: Your symptoms begin to worsen in stage two. The tremor and difficulty moving begin to affect both sides of the body. You may still live on your own, but daily tasks become harder.
Stage three: The loss of balance and slowness of movements make up this phase. This is considered the mid-stage of the disease. Falling is more common, and although you can still be independent, the normal tasks become even harder to complete.
Stage four: You are unable to live alone in stage four. You may be able to stand up on your own, but you need a walker for moving around.
Stage five: Around the clock nursing and care is required in the final stage of Parkinson’s. You cannot stand or walk. You also will require a wheelchair, or you may even be bedridden.
THE PARKINSON’S VOICE PROJECT: The Parkinson Voice Project, located in Richardson, Texas, treats patients in their clinic, researches, and trains speech-language pathologists in their therapy programs. The program includes evaluation, an information session for the patient and family, and a two-part therapy program: SPEAK OUT! and THE LOUD CROWD! SPEAK OUT! consists of twelve sessions where a trained speech-language pathologist works through a series of speech exercises in 40-45 minute sessions. The second part of the therapy is THE LOUD CROWD! This part of the program is a group therapy session where the patients participate in singing and loud speaking to encourage the use of their voices. The Parkinson’s Voice Project is funded entirely through donations and does not bill patients. This project has trained speech-language pathologist’s around the world for patients who cannot travel to Texas.
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