Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 319–329 | Cite as

Evaluation of speech impairment in early stages of Parkinson’s disease: a prospective study with the role of pharmacotherapy

  • Jan Rusz
  • Roman Čmejla
  • Hana Růžičková
  • Jiří Klempíř
  • Veronika Majerová
  • Jana Picmausová
  • Jan Roth
  • Evžen Růžička
Movement Disorders - Original Article


Despite the initial reports showing beneficial effects of dopaminergic treatment on speech in Parkinson’s disease (PD), more recent studies based upon valid measurements have not approved any improvement of speech performance under pharmacotherapy. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of treatment initiation on the progression of speech impairment in PD, using novel evaluation criteria. Nineteen de novo patients with PD were tested and retested within 2 years after the introduction of antiparkinsonian therapy. As controls, 19 age-matched individuals were recorded. Speech examination included sustained phonation, fast syllable repetition, reading text, and monolog. Quantitative acoustic analyses of the key aspects of speech based on Gaussian kernel distribution, statistical decision-making theory, and healthy speech observation were used to assess the improvement or deterioration of speech. A trend for speech performances to improve was demonstrated after treatment mainly in quality of voice, intensity variability, pitch variability, and articulation. The treatment-related improvement differed in various aspects of speech for individual PD patients. Improvements in vowel articulation and pitch variability correlated with treatment-related changes in bradykinesia and rigidity, whereas voice quality and loudness variability improved independently. Using a novel approach of acoustic analysis and advanced statistics, improvements in speech performance can be demonstrated in PD patients after the introduction of antiparkinsonian therapy. Moreover, changes in speech articulation and pitch variability appear to be related with dopaminergic responsiveness of bradykinesia and rigidity. Therefore, speech may be a valuable marker of disease progression and treatment efficacy in PD.


Parkinson’s disease Dysarthria Speech disorders Acoustic analysis Levodopa 



This study was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (GACR 102/12/2230), Czech Ministry of Health (NT 11331-6/2010), Czech Ministry of Health (NT 12288-5/2011), and Czech Ministry of Education (MSM 0021620849). The authors thank to Cecilia Bonnet for her valuable comments on the manuscript and to Aaron Rulseh for his thoughtful English correction.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Rusz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roman Čmejla
    • 1
  • Hana Růžičková
    • 2
  • Jiří Klempíř
    • 2
  • Veronika Majerová
    • 2
  • Jana Picmausová
    • 2
  • Jan Roth
    • 2
  • Evžen Růžička
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Circuit Theory, Faculty of Electrical EngineeringCzech Technical University in PraguePrague 6Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Neurology and Centre of Clinical Neuroscience, First Faculty of MedicineCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic

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