Singing offers help to Parkinson’s Disease patients in Airedale

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A pilot project has brought together a soprano and speech and language therapist to help people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Sixteen people with the illness are being taught to improve their speech by combining voice therapy with singing.

The new six week course is being organised by Debra Borsley, speech and language therapist at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and singer Rhiannon Gayle with the support of the Skipton branch of Parkinson’s UK.

It is hoped that the course at the Aire Unit in the trust’s Day Hospital for the Elderly will improve vocal loudness, pitch range and control, breath control, facial mobility and have an impact on confidence and wellbeing. If the course is a success there are plans to run more in the future.

Mrs Borsley said: “Many people with Parkinson’s Disease have a quiet voice. Sometimes they can sing loudly but when it comes to speaking the level of their voice drops. There is evidence that intensive effortful voice practice can have a significant impact on vocal loudness and so we are trying to help them combine voice therapy and singing to improve day to day conversation. Singing can also have a very positive impact on your mood and wellbeing.”

The participants, who are aged between 60 and 78, have been pre-assessed to be given individual targets and daily communications tasks. The aim is to improve voice and to give them techniques to help them to maintain the volume of their voice for as long as possible.

Paul Thuilliez, of Burley in Wharfedale, is a member of the singing group. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease eight years ago and suffered loss of speech. But through singing his speech has improved.

Last month Mr Thuilliez and his wife Corine organised a choral concert which raised £3,000 to help other people with Parkinson’s Disease through promoting voice therapy and singing.

Rhiannon Gayle has previously been involved in a choir for people with the illness in Harrogate.