Effects of Singing on Speech in Patients with Parkinson's Disease
Nearly 75% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have speech and voice impairments. In addition, difficulties in breathing and airway protection are the primary factors leading to death in persons with PD. Singing, like speech, is produced by the larynx in conjunction with the respiratory system. However, singing requires greater breath control and is considered to be a more sustained form of speech with greater emphasis placed on rhythm, tempo, and pitch modulation. Singing may also increase laryngeal and respiratory muscle strength needed to delay the development of respiratory complications due to muscle weakness associated with PD. This study measured the effects of a singing intervention in 27 participants with PD. Participants were assigned into a high (met 2 times per week) or low intensity (met one time per week) group. Voice and respiratory measures were recorded pre and post eight weeks of intervention. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressure (F > 4.288, p < 0.05), as well as vocal duration (F = 4.233, p = 0.05). These results suggest that singing may be a valid treatment option for maintaining and improving voice and respiratory control in persons with PD.