twitterfeedIf you want to get some brain exercise, try a Twitter talk with #michaeljfox.org. It is an experiment in multitasking because after promptly reading the tweets, you have to answer back quickly and include a hashtag so your tweet goes to the right recipients. Also, if you are a thoughtful Tweeter, you won’t forget to occasionally give the participants some kudos with a retweet or a favorite symbol. Multitasking is challenging, and consequently, I stumbled and even had to be reminded that I wasn’t using the #FopxPDchat on some of my tweets. If you want to give your brain a workout, try this novel method of chatting about your PD status. Plus you can learn a few things along the way.

The topic at the #FoxPDchat on Twitter on Friday was titled How Parkinson’s Affects Speech and Swallowing. The experts included Parkinson Voice Project, a Dallas non-profit dedicated to helping people with Parkinson disease regain their voices. LSVT Global from Tuscon, Arizona also chirped. They work on improving the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson disease by delivering evidence-based speech and physical/occupational therapy treatments. Rachel Dolhun, MDa Movement Disorder Specialist led medical communications @michaelj fox .org.

The participants included several of us people with PD who are interested in speech and swallowing. People with PD may have a quiet voice and have to repeat things in order for other to understand. As for swallowing, Parkinson Voice Project reminded us that it is multitasking issue. “Reducing distraction while eating is a recommendation given.” I pointed out that’s it’s tough not to get distracted in lunchroom at work talking/eating with co-workers. Parkinson Voice Project tweeted, “Anecdotally, 60-80% of PWP report better swallowing after SPEAK OUT! therapy…”

I checked out their website and learned that SPEAK OUT!® is an effective voice program developed by Parkinson Voice Project and it is the first part of Parkinson Voice Project’s therapy program.  After completing an evaluation and attending a Parkinson’s Information Session, patients meet with a certified speech-language pathologist for (typically) twelve 45-minute individual therapy sessions.  Together, the patient and the speech-language pathologist work their way through a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises using a specialized workbook.  Upon completion of SPEAK OUT!, patients transition to the second part of the therapy program, The LOUD Crowd®,  which is designed to assist the patient in maintaining their improved communication skills. You can go on their website to see who is a provider in our area. http://www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/speakout.html

LSVTLOUD has 20 years of NIH-funded research to support improvements in voice and speech. Their website is a wealth of knowledge with everything from information on finding a clinican, to free webinars and patient symposiums. http://www.lsvtglobal.com/patient-resources. In the Bay Area, we are lucky enough to have LSVTLoud classes presented at the Parkinson’s Institute: http://www.thepi.org/get-loud-lsvt-and-speech-therapy-at-your-parkinson-s-institute/

Just as I was perfecting my Twitter skills, the session came to a close. It was a wrap for this month’s #FoxPDchat! But we can join them July 17 for a chat on Parkinson’s disease and the gut. That’s one not to miss!

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