Ruth Pickles

parkinson p13Ruth Pickles is Airedale speech and language therapy team’s first patient to pilot the remote delivery of an intensive treatment to help improve the lives of an increasing number of patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

She had Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) delivered in the comfort her own home using telemedicine, which helps patients to speak louder.

Ruth, aged 60, of Embsay, near Skipton, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2001 and was keen to trial remote delivery of the treatment.

It is being delivered via a secure video link and internet technology and Ruth can hear and see her speech and language therapist Debra Borsley 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’s Disease and neurological conditions, developed in America and promoted by the National Institute of Health, to help improve the quality and loudness of the voice. For details

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 and assignments such as leaving clear messages on an answerphone 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,” said Debra. “It’s been such an uplifting experience for both of us as we can see progress so quickly. Ruth is doing 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 more convenient, saving both the patient and therapist time and money. However, it is still labour intensive and involves planning exercises for each patient taking into account their interests. 

At the end of the project evidence will be examined to see whether it can be rolled out to other patients.