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Published on February 18, 2011

Overlake's Outpatient Center Offers Speech Therapy for Parkinson's Patients

Bellevue, Wash. – The Outpatient Center at Overlake Hospital Medical Center now offers a highly specialized and nationally recognized type of speech therapy, the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®-LOUD), for patients with voice and speech disorders as a result of Parkinson's disease.

The LSVT-LOUD program was established more than 20 years ago by Dr. Lorraine Ramig and her colleagues at the University of Colorado – Boulder. It's a time-intensive, but simple program consisting of 16 one-hour sessions scheduled over the course of one month that helps patients improve the volume and clarity of their speech. The treatment techniques and vocal exercises teach patients to increase and strengthen their breath and exaggerate their speech volume so they can talk much louder and more clearly than they used to.

"We are seeing more patients affected by Parkinson's disease," said Rita Darnielle, supervisor of Speech Pathology at Overlake. "We feel it's important to expand our services and offer patients this well-known, proven treatment that can greatly improve their speech and quality of life."

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition that often causes a weak, breathy voice and indistinct speech, along with other physical symptoms including tremors and a slow, shuffling gait. Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) and cognitive impairments can also accompany the disease. Overlake's LSVT-certified Speech-Language Pathologist is one of five LSVT therapists in Bellevue. According to a 2007 Parkinson's Disease Foundation study, approximately one million Americans suffer from Parkinson's disease, with most reporting symptoms after the age of 50.

Overlake Hospital Medical Center is a nonprofit, non-tax-supported regional medical center with a network of medical clinics throughout the Eastside. For more information, visit

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