12 December 2012 – Pilot to help Parkinson patients speak louder

Posted on December 12, 2012 by AireAdmin

Ruth Pickles is the first patient at Airedale Hospital to pilot the remote delivery of an intensive treatment to help improve the lives of an increasing number of patients with Parkinson Disease.

She will be the speech and language therapy team’s first patients to have Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) using telemedicine, which helps patients to speak louder.

It is being delivered in the comfort of Ruth’s own home by speech and language therapist Debra Borsley. Via a secure video link and internet technology, Ruth can hear and see Debra on her computer screen as clearly as if she had a face-to-face consultation in the hospital.

LSVT Loud is a speech treatment for Parkinson Disease and neurological conditions, developed in America and promoted by the National Institute of Health, to help improve the quality and loudness of their voice. For details www.LSVTGlobal.com

Virtually everyone with Parkinson Disease will have problems with speech including a soft voice – even though the patient is making the same amount of effort to speak. The disease also affects a patient’s facial expressions. Ruth, aged 60, of Emsey, near Skipton, was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease in 2001 and is keen to trial remote delivery of the treatment.

The treatment is very intensive for both the therapist and the patient – one hour a day, four days a week, for four weeks. It also requires practice sessions every day at home, including weekends and involves assignments such as leaving clear messages on an answer phone and using a louder voice whilst out in shops.

Ruth was hesitant at first whilst getting used to the system, but she soon began to think it was “marvellous” and is looking forward to reading stories to her grandchildren again.

“Initially I was sceptical as I couldn’t imagine how it would work so remotely,” said Debra.

“Its been such an uplifting experience for both of us as we can see progress so quickly. Ruth is doing so well, better than I could ever have imagined. she has become more animated and is gaining confidence.”

The LSVT programme has real benefits for patients, but is costly to deliver – especially if the patient is brought into hospital by ambulance or a therapist has to travel to their home daily. Delivering it remotely is much more convenient, saving both the patient and therapist time and money, however, it is still labour intensive and involved planning exercised tailor-made for each patient taking into account their interests.
At the en of the project the Speech and Language Therapy team will examine the evidence to see whether it can be rolled out to other patients.

Last week, Chris Wright, programme manager for the Department of Health’s “3millionlives” project – which is about transforming service delivery for people with long term conditions or social care needs using telehealth and telecare – and Stephen Johnson, Department of Health’s deputy director for long-term conditions visited Airedale Hospital to find out more about the progress they are making with their telemedicine work.

Progress so far

  • Currently 1,000 patients across Airedale Hospital’s catchment area are linked to the Telehealth Hub including those with chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes. 
  • Telemedicine is being used by 19 nursing homes across the Bradford district and three in Craven as part of a pilot using reablement money.
  • Manorlands Hospice for seriously ill patients is linked up and six GP surgeries.
  • A telemedicine community hub is available in Grassington where patients can have an outpatient consultation via a secure video link
  • We provide a telemedicine service to 21 prisons.