Meritus total rehab care offers speech program for people with Parkinson’s

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown has a total rehab center that offers therapy to people with Parkinson’s.

Its program, “Speak Out,” is a cognitive treatment approach to voice and swallowing problems associated with Parkinson’s disease.

“It helps people with Parkinson’s speak with intent and live with intent, and when you speak with intent, it improves your vocal quality, clarity and intelligibility,” said Tiffany Vera, a speech language pathologist at Meritus.

“Our patients will tell us, ‘oh my gosh, I feel like I’m yelling,’ and really, they are just speaking at a normal volume, and our therapy has to recalibrate their level of effort and their level of intent when they’re speaking,” said Marissa Yoes, another speech language pathologist at Meritus.

Vera and Yoes are two of four pathologists trained for this program in the state of Maryland. Some of the early symptoms of a speech disorder caused by Parkinson’s are decreased facial expression, monotone pitch and quiet volume.

The people that make this program possible said they see positive outcomes from patients that complete the program after 12 sessions.

The next project for the rehab center is to transition patients who complete “Speak Out” to a new program, called “Loud Crowd,” starting this fall.