South Florida Baptist Hospital is now offering a specialized speech therapy program for Parkinson’s patients.
Plant City residents with Parkinson’s disease will now be able to participate in a specialized speech therapy program at South Florida Baptist Hospital.
The program recently came into existence after the hospital received a grant from Parkinson Voice Project. The Outpatient Rehabilitation Program will now feature “SPEAK OUT!” and “The LOUD Crowd” programs for any and all Parkinson’s patients.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological condition. The slowly progressive disease causes a gradual loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine essentially is the carrier of signals to the parts of the brain that control movement and coordination. A lack of signals can cause general slowness, stiffness of limbs and tremors. Eventually, it could also cause speech issues, decreased facial expression and an imbalanced, shuffling gait. More symptoms may occur if other parts of the brain and other neurotransmitters begin to be affected by the disease. The mean age of someone who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s is 60 years old, though five to 10 percent of patients who are diagnosed are under the age of 40, according to the Parkinson Foundation.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, treatment options are available to delay or minimize some of the symptoms that come along with the disease. Part of that includes working with a therapist to maintain function of capabilities like speech.
Through the SFBH programs, speech therapists at the hospital will work with the patients to “convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act,” according to a news release. Up to 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s are at a high risk of developing a weak voice, which in turn can lead to major speech and swallowing complications. Losing the ability to speak can impact a variety of aspects in one’s life, so the hospital is eager to offer assistance in maintaining its patient’s personal independence.
The “SPEAK OUT!” course typically consists of 12 individual speech therapy sessions where speech-language pathologists and patients work through a variety of exercises using specialized workbooks to strengthen the patient’s speech, voice and cognitive functions. If a patient seeks speech therapy, they would need a physician.
“The LOUD Crowd” program is a free weekly group therapy session for those who have already completed the “SPEAK OUT!” program. The concept for “The LOUD Crowd” is that a patient would take the incentive to perform exercises both at the hospital and with daily practice at home. By taking part in a group therapy program, the patient will have access to a support group full of others walking the same path. The impact of camaraderie and encouragement can often make a massive difference in someone’s journey. Attendees do not have to be patients at SFBH for this program, but they do need to make an appointment with the SFBH speech therapist for an evaluation before they can join the group. They would need a physician order for that evaluation.
The weekly group will meet at the BayCare HealthHub in Bloomingdale, 2470 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, and the Plant City Family YMCA, 1507 YMCA Place.
For more information
Contact Jennifer Ackett, speech therapist, at 813-707-9362.
To schedule a speech therapy appointment, call 813-443-8028.