Authors: Higgins AN, Richardson KC
Title: The Effects of a Choral Singing Intervention on Speech Characteristics in Individuals With Parkinson’s Disease: An Exploratory Study
Source: Communication Disorders Quarterly 2019 40(4): 195-205
Year: 2019
Research Design: Case Series

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine speech characteristics in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) before and after participation in an 11-week choral singing intervention. Speech characteristics were analyzed using an acoustic measure of vowel space area (VSA) and a standardized speech intelligibility metric. Participants included five males and five females with PD. VSA was derived for the corner vowels (/i/, /u/, /æ/ /α/) produced during a sentence-level task. VSA was expressed as an irregular quadrilateral formed by the first and second formants of these corner vowels. A validated speech intelligibility instrument was administered pre- and posttreatment. VSA significantly increased posttreatment, which suggests greater tongue excursion during vowel articulation. Speech intelligibility scores significantly increased posttreatment, thus reflecting improved speech communication. Results suggest that choral singing may be a viable speech treatment for some individuals with PD. A large-scale randomized controlled trial is warranted.

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