About 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have trouble with their speech. Thanks to Lee Silverman Voice Technique, a voice therapy offered at Hebrew SeniorLife, Helene “Honey” Deutch, a Hebrew Rehabilitation Dedham resident living with Parkinson’s disease, has seen remarkable improvements in her ability to communicate with others. Along with being able to speak, Honey has regained her confidence and enjoys all that life has to offer.
Helene “Honey” Deutch is a 76-year-old woman who loves to socialize, is involved in several groups, and makes friends easily. In addition to being a homemaker and mother, Honey was a successful makeup artist and real estate agent before retiring. She also has Parkinson’s disease.
When Honey began experiencing problems with her voice, a common symptom of the disease, she decided to seek help. Her voice problems were making it difficult to enjoy all the things she liked to do. People around her were not able to understand her speech, which was usually too soft to hear, or unclear. Honey and those around her became frustrated. She was afraid to communicate in groups because she couldn’t count on her voice always working. People avoided conversations with her both in person and on the telephone. As a result, Honey felt depressed and became withdrawn. It was very difficult for her because she had always been the life of the party.
Honey started seeing Robyn Earley, a speech language pathologist at Hebrew SeniorLife, in the fall of 2015. After their first session, Ms. Earley identified Honey as a good candidate for Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT). This treatment is evidence-based and has proven to be very successful with other patients. Individuals who receive LSVT described “getting their voices back” in ways that positively impacted their lives.
LSVT is designed for adults and children with neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease causes difficulty with respiratory support required for speech, speech clarity and volume. As a result, these individuals often withdraw from social activities, causing frustration at home and a feeling of loss of control over the ability to connect with others,” continues Ms. Earley.
“During and after LSVT therapy patients report feeling more in control, and experience more success when communicating with others, which leads to resumption of social activities,” says Ms. Earley.
Ms. Earley provides LSVT for patients in a number of Hebrew SeniorLife settings, including outpatient care, home care, short-term rehab and long-term care. “Recently I have seen several patients both in our outpatient clinic, as well as long-term care who were once very social and had very active lives,” says Ms. Earley. “I wanted to help Honey get back to the things she always enjoyed doing.”
After a little more than a month of receiving treatments, three times a week, Honey’s ability to speak loudly and clearly with others improved. She has a close friendship with another resident who also has Parkinson’s. They support each other by giving reminders to use LSVT techniques when their speech starts to get too soft. At the end of treatment Honey was excited to get involved with the resident advisory council and is able to speak when she is in a group setting. She is an active member of the NewBridge on the Charles Players, a theatrical troupe on campus, and enjoys performing with the group.
“Honey remained dedicated throughout her therapy,” says Ms. Earley. In addition to her sessions with Ms. Earley, Honey practices daily home exercises. She works hard each day to maintain the gains that she has realized in therapy. Today, Honey is very happy with the progress she made with the LSVT treatment and wants to share her story in the hopes of helping others.