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Baycrest becomes first Ontario hospital to provide remote voice treatment sessions to Parkinson’s patients
February 01, 2018

Baycrest Health Sciences has become the first hospital in Ontario to offer a clinically-validated and gold standard telerehabilitation program for Parkinson’s patients. The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®) eLoud is an innovative therapy that helps individuals with Parkinson’s disease improve their communication.

During remote sessions, the clinician and their patients complete exercises while seeing each other in real time through Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN), a telemedicine system, using a camera, microphone and speakers.The patient’s volume and frequency is measured by special instruments from a speech pathologist at Baycrest.

“Most people with Parkinson’s have difficulties with mobility, and moving from one treatment session to another is difficult,” says Maria Piccini, a speech-language pathologist who runs the LSVT® Clinic at Baycrest. “This is a very intensive therapy, which is done four times a week, and doing it remotely improves a patient’s chances of completing the treatment.”

The results from the treatment speak for themselves.  After using the LSVT® eLoud treatment for 4 weeks, all of the clients said they saw significant improvements to their communication. The research paper “Effects of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT® LOUD) on hypomimia in Parkinson’s disease”, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, indicates that vocal loudness, intonation, and voice quality is maintained up to two years post-treatment. Various studies  also documented the effectiveness of this therapy in improving the common problems of disordered articulation, diminished facial expression and impaired swallowing.

“I was very hesitant to take the LSVT® training. Boy, am I glad I did,” says Steve Carson, Parkinson’s patient. “My voice has improved to near normal. All of my family and friends have commented on the improvement in my voice and my demeanor. I am more engaged socially and I am back to my chatty self.  I didn’t realize that my whisper voice was making me withdrawn. The training was so easy. I looked forward to my web lesson every day. I have found it easy to keep my practice, with a few reminders from my wife.”  

“People are very pleased with the treatment and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the patients’ families,” says Piccini. “The LSVT® eLoud program has been running at Baycrest for a year, and the results that we have seen so far are very similar to the in-person treatment.”

Despite the distance, telemedicine for voice treatments has been shown to be effective for patients. A recent study by Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute on stroke patients rehab found that patients who accessed speech language therapy over the Internet saw large improvements to their communication abilities that were similar to those of patients doing in-person therapy.

“It’s important that patients practice their voice exercises to maintain the result.” adds Piccini. “They may need follow-up and maintenance sessions after the initial treatment.”

To learn more about the program, please contact Maria Piccini at mPiccini@baycrest.org or (416)785-2500, ext. 2928

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