Speech Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network’s (HHCRN) Outpatient Speech-Language Pathology Services offer rehabilitative programs to improve the communication and swallowing abilities of those individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are essential members of the team who evaluate and treat persons with movement disorders. SLPs can evaluate and treat difficulties affecting communication, such as problems with language, cognition, speech, and voice. They also lead the assessment, management, and rehabilitation of swallowing problems, known as dysphagia.

With recent advances in research and technology, there are several new effective treatment programs to exercise and rehabilitate the muscles used for speaking and swallowing.

What is SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd®


SPEAK OUT!® is a therapy regimen tailored to people with Parkinson’s disease to improve their voice, and in turn, their swallowing. In this program, speech is transformed from an automatic function to an intentional act. SPEAK OUT!® is typically completed in 12 sessions spanning four weeks, and then the client transitions to the LOUD Crowd®. In this four-week span, the client and speech-language pathologist work their way through a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises. Clients report improvement in their speaking, their ability to be heard, and their overall quality of life. 

LOUD Crowd®

LOUD Crowd® is the group-therapy maintenance portion of the program and meets once a week. The sessions provide ongoing vocal practice, accountability, support, and encouragement for skills obtained during SPEAK OUT!®. Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network offers LOUD Crowd® free-of-charge to SPEAK OUT!® graduates.

The SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® therapy regimens were developed by Parkinson Voice Project, in Richardson, TX. Visit their website.

When and where can I receive services?

SPEAK OUT!® is available by appointment with one of our trained speech-language pathologists. LOUD Crowd® is offered weekdays at several outpatient Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network locations throughout the state.

Program Locations

I have Parkinson’s disease. When should I begin seeing a speech-language pathologist?

According to studies, up to 89% of people with Parkinson’s disease develop difficulty communicating, and up to 95% develop difficulty swallowing. To postpone and prevent this decline, it is optimal to begin speech therapy as soon as possible. Participation in SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® can change the effects that Parkinson’s disease has on your voice. Muscles become weak because they are not used to their full capacity, not because Parkinson’s in making them weak. SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® requires you to use the muscles for speaking and swallowing to their full potential.

What other speech therapy services can I receive?

In addition to SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd®, HHCRN offers additional services to improve and maintain your speech, voice, swallowing, and cognitive-communication skills. 

Respiratory Muscle Training

A rehabilitative treatment approach known as Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT) incorporates the principles of exercise to improve cough function, voice, and swallow safety. A hand-held device called the Expiratory Muscle Strength Trainer (EMST), is used to increase the strength of the respiratory muscles.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Speech therapy can also address language and cognitive issues that can occur in Parkinson’s disease, such as thinking of the words you want to use, forming complete sentences, memory, and concentration. Our clinicians work with clients to develop an individualized approach to functional daily problems, including compensatory strategies and a home program.

Swallowing Assessments and Rehabilitation

The speech-language pathologist is often the rehabilitation professional who will assist you in maintaining good swallowing function and preventing food or liquid from entering your airway through treatment techniques. If necessary, specialized diagnostic swallowing assessments such as Modified Barium Swallow Studies (MBSS) or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing studies (FEES) can be completed. The speech-language pathologist will also provide state-of-the-art dysphagia treatment programs to exercise and strengthen the muscles you use for swallowing. 

What costs are associated with these services?

Your insurance company will be billed for speech therapy services provided. Please check your insurance to determine the co-pay or cost associated with these services. Prior to scheduling your appointment, please obtain a prescription from your doctor for a speech evaluation and treatment.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Ask your primary care doctor or neurologist for a referral for speech therapy and have them fax it to any of the Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network locations listed above. Once sent, you can schedule your appointment directly with the clinic of your choice. For further information on any of our programs, please contact Sylvia Fisher, Speech Pathology Program Manager at 860.490.9284 or email HHCRNspeechpathology@hhchealth.org.

Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network