Should I see a speech pathologist if I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease?

Jan 15, 2024

If you have just received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease from your neurologist you may feel inundated with information for medication, therapies, and recommendations. It grows to feel overwhelming so you may be asking yourself, do I really need to tack SLP appointments onto all of this? 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neuromotor degenerative disorder that can impact voice, swallow, speech, and cognition. It is approximated that 4 out of 5 patients with PD will be experience swallow difficulties, known as dysphagia (Kalf et al., 2012) and 90% experience speech changes characterized by monotone loudness or hoarse vocal quality (Atalar et al., 2023). Though these symptoms are common, there is a breadth of research exhibiting the positive impact of speech therapy on patient outcomes using strategies and exercises described below. A SLP’s goals with these patients is to maintain swallow safety, speech comprehensibility, and overall quality of life. 

What would speech therapy look like? 

Following your initial evaluation and plan of care submission, your speech therapist will likely recommend an Expiratory Muscle Strength Trainer (EMST) to support voice, swallow, and cough function. This is covered by some insurances, other purchase options can be discussed in the clinic. Additionally, training will be initiated for an amplitude based training program to support your voice and speech clarity. At our clinic, you will be provided with contact information to obtain your own SPEAKOUT! workbook that will be of no charge to you. Both of these products will be used as training materials for exercises in session and development of a home regimen. 

Further, you may complete a swallow assessment in which an SLP will examine your swallow to determine recommendations regarding diet to best serve you in preventing dysphagia complications such as aspiration pneumonia. The type of study performed in our clinic is known as a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). Our goal is to keep you eating and drinking the things you love in the safest way possible. 

If you or a loved one have had a recent PD diagnosis or want to know more about SLP services for PD, please contact our office at 352-283-0595 for more information regarding arranging an initial assessment to discuss treatment options. 

Written by Erin Stidham, MA SLP License #SZ11289

Additional Links: 

ASHA PD Fact Sheet: 


Atalar, M. S., Oguz, O., & Genc, G. (2023). Hypokinetic Dysarthria in Parkinson’s Disease: A Narrative Review. The Medical Bulletin of Sisli Etfal Hospital, 57(2), 163–170.

Kalf, J. G., de Swart, B. J. M., Bloem, B. R., & Munneke, M. (2012). Prevalence of oropharyngeal dysphagia in Parkinson’s disease: A meta-analysis. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 18(4), 311–315.

Muñoz-Vigueras, N., Prados-Román, E., Valenza, M. C., Granados-Santiago, M., Cabrera-Martos, I., Rodríguez-Torres, J., & Torres-Sánchez, I. (2021). Speech and language therapy treatment on hypokinetic dysarthria in Parkinson disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation, 35(5), 639–655.

Saleem, S., Miles, A., & Allen, J. (2023). A systematic review of behavioural therapies for improving swallow and cough function in Parkinson’s disease. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 0(0), 1–18.


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