The Sound Center launches video series for people with Parkinson's Disease. Ann instructs viewers to use intent to speak clearly, a powerful tool for people with Parkinson's Disease.

The Sound Center launches video series for people with Parkinson’s Disease

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The Sound Center is pleased to announce the release of our new video series for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Do you or a loved one have Parkinson’s Disease? Do you want to find helpful treatments for speech, swallowing, or brain function?  Do you want to identify changes quickly and take action to improve your quality of life? If so, this video series is for you!

Speech-language pathologist Ann Kolker Rychel comments,

I’m excited to be a part of this! People should know there are research-based interventions that really work. For example, the SPEAK OUT! program takes people with Parkinson’s Disease from whispering and mumbling to being able to speak clearly and be heard at a family party!

Early treatment is essential in maintaining function. A speech pathologist can recognize small changes before they become a big problem. Speech disorders alone are estimated to affect nearly 90% of people with Parkinson’s disease, but only 3-4% will receive treatment for changes in speech1. The Sound Center can help!

People with Parkinson’s Disease, due to a lack of dopamine, have an impaired ability to do actions that used to be automatic, such as talking, walking, and writing. When they use intent to speak, their speech is more precise and their voice is clearer. They are able to be heard. Sometimes the change is dramatic.

Ann begins this new video series for people with Parkinson’s Disease with a demonstration of the use of intent. She invites the viewer to try using intent in simple phrases. She provides a brief glimpse into the power of doing actions on purpose.

The first video is just the beginning. New videos will be released twice a month, so stay tuned for more videos! For more information now:

1 Dashtipour K, Tafreshi A, Lee J, Crawley B. Speech disorders in Parkinson’s disease: pathophysiology, medical management and surgical approaches. Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2018 Oct;8(5):337-348. doi: 10.2217/nmt-2018-0021. Epub 2018 Sep 18. PMID: 30223711.
Parkinson Voice Project in Richmond, Texas

Parkinson’s News

A couple of interesting items we wanted to share:

  1. Tonight is the 15th Anniversary Celebration of Parkinson Voice Project, the non-profit organization that provides training for the therapy we do for people with Parkinson’s. SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd! The webpage provides a mass of information that is helpful, inspiring, and educational. Check it out here and tune in tonight at 6:30 Central Time!
  2. One of the most frequent ideas we use in our SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd sessions is to SPEAK WITH INTENT. A recent study looked at the frequency of feedback in communication interactions.
    • They compared the feedback messages provided by people with Parkinson’s versus people who don’t have Parkinson’s.
    • They found that people with Parkinson’s provided less feedback. You could say that the people with Parkinson’s communicated less than the people without Parkinson’s.
    • So, my take-away is that I need to encourage people in my SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd therapy to SPEAK MORE!
Use intent to SPEAK MORE, and when you speak, SPEAK WITH INTENT!

Videoconference Style: Too Loud!

I have noticed for years that there is a natural tendency to talk more loudly on speaker phones, cell phones, and in video conferences. My theory is that whenever there is a reduction in the data we transmit as we communicate, we compensate with a louder voice.

Here are a few examples of what is lost as we use technology to transmit our voices:

  • Reduced fidelity: Phone conversations transmit a reduced fidelity of sound, specifically in the high frequencies. Some speech sounds, like “S” and “F” sound alike over the phone. Cutting this high-frequency energy can not only make some speech sounds indistinguishable, but important voice quality information is eliminated. The authors of this very interesting article posit that high frequency energy conveys information about voice quality, localization, and intelligibility.
  • Time lag: We also frequently deal with time lag. Even a brief moment of silence from the person on the other end can make us wonder if we have been heard at all. We might rush in to repeat or rephrase just as the other person responds. The lag may be in transmitting or receiving our message, or in the processing of the degraded signals, once received.
  • Video and audio out-of-sync: Video conference meetings can add to the confusion, especially if we have a slow signal and the video and audio are out of sync or periodically freeze. We can forget the purpose of the technology and experience stress.
  • Assumed acoustic reversibility. We tend to think that others hear the world as we do. But in an online meeting, our voice might be coming through loud and clear, but others may sound distorted or muted; and the opposite could be true; or we could all sound bad! This and three other unique differences between communication in-person versus over videoconference was discussed in a post titled “4 weird things that happen when you videoconference“.

So with these differences, we may speak more loudly. The cliché of the person yelling their message to someone who speaks a different language, as ineffective as it is, provides another example of the tendency to get louder when we are not understood.

Are you a loud talker in your Zoom calls? Is it a problem? Assess whether you regularly talk more loudly than needed. Ask people you trust if you do this. Notice your communication partners as you speak: Do they pull back when you are talking? Also, pay attention to how your throat feels during and after meetings. If it is sore, you may be talking louder than necessary.

For some, a bit of awareness is all they need to adjust to a more moderate level. For many, changing vocal behaviors is very difficult. We have years of experience helping people make their communication more effective, so if you need help with this or other issues, contact us.

The Sound Center Now Accepting United Health Care Plans

The Sound Center is now an in-network provider for the following health plans:

  • United Healthcare Medicare Solutions
  • UHC of Illinois
  • UHC-Navigate
  • UHC-Compass
  • UHC Charter
  • NexusACO NR
  • NexusACO R

We are also participating providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and Medicare.

We are happy to partner with these plans to help you receive the care you need. If you don’t see your plan listed above, contact us. New plans are being added.

The Sound Center welcomes Ann Kolker Rychel

We are pleased to welcome Ann Kolker Rychel, MA, CCC-SLP to The Sound Center! Ann joins The Sound Center as a speech-language pathologist offering therapy for:

  • Voice,
  • Speech,
  • Parkinson’s Disease, including SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd,
  • Swallowing,
  • Language,
  • Cognition

More about Ann:
During her career as a speech-language pathologist, Ann Kolker Rychel has worked with adults in outpatient, sub-acute, inpatient, and inpatient rehabilitation settings. A curious and compassionate approach to therapy coupled with experience treating various speech, voice, and swallowing disorders allow her to guide and assist clients in meeting their goals. As an experienced classically trained singer, she brings unique perspectives and experience to speech and voice therapy. Ann earned a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Saint Xavier University. Ann is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as licensed in the state of Illinois.

Lockdown Throat

“Lockdown throat” is a brand-new term that has arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not a symptom of the virus; Instead, it describes the sore, tight, or dry throat many are experiencing after a long day of remote meetings.

Have you noticed you talk more loudly when you are not face-to-face?

Researchers in Ireland are studying the effects of all of the loud talking we are doing these days. This sustained loud talking can take a toll on our throats. The researchers are conducting a survey to learn more about the specific issues people are experiencing.

There are a few basic practices that will protect you if your throat is bothering you:

  1. Stay hydrated and have a glass of water at hand.
  2. Warm up your voice. Don’t allow your video conference meetings to be the first time you use your voice. Don’t know how to warm up your voice? We can help!
  3. Sit tall.
  4. Schedule vocal breaks.
  5. Relax. If you are tense, your voice will suffer.
  6. Use the same vocal volume you would use if you were in a quiet room sitting about an arm’s length away from someone.

If you are unable to relieve your tired or hoarse voice with these tips, get in touch with us. You may have adapted habits of vocal tension or poor technique that would benefit from a session or two of voice therapy.



The Sound Center Receives Grant for Parkinson’s Therapy

Oak Brook, IL — The Sound Center has been awarded another grant to assist with Parkinson’s therapy programs.

The grant will support continued growth of SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® treatment programs. These highly effective therapies improve voice and swallowing function in people with Parkinson’s Disease.

“People with Parkinson’s Disease often have voices that are hoarse, breathy, and monotone, and they may be difficult to understand” said Michelle Eppley, Speech-Language Pathologist and President of The Sound Center. “We want them to get their voices back. It is life-changing.”

The focus of these therapy programs is to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. Once participants graduate from individual SPEAK OUT!® sessions, they attend ongoing weekly LOUD Crowd® group sessions. In these groups, they practice their exercises, keep each other motivated, and provide camaraderie.

The Parkinson Voice Project, which runs the grant program, is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the world solely dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speech and swallowing.

With the support of Parkinson Voice Project, The Sound Center offers LOUD Crowd® sessions at no cost to participants. Currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SPEAK OUT!® sessions and LOUD Crowd® meetings are being held online through telehealth. Medicare and other insurers are covering individual Telehealth therapy sessions. Any person who has Parkinson’s Disease is invited to participate. Contact us.

YES! Medicare is covering telehealth speech therapy!

Great news for Medicare patients who have had to put speech therapy on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now allows telehealth services to Medicare Part B (outpatient) beneficiaries provided by speech-language pathologists.

The Sound Center, Inc., offers high-quality telehealth services and we are thrilled that CMS is covering speech and voice services for Medicare beneficiaries. We look forward to helping those who have had their treatment interrupted get back on track. New patients are also welcome.

Please contact us for more information.

For further reading, see the CMS press release.



Focus on Your Voice

World Voice Day

It’s World Voice Day! The theme this year is “Focus on Your Voice” and in the midst of the quarantine, you may find that you are using your voice more than usual on video conference meetings and phone calls. How is it holding up? Here are a few ideas to help you get your voice ready before your next meeting:

  1. Stay hydrated and have water nearby
  2. Warm up your voice.
  3. Move! Stretch and exercise to get your blood flowing and breath moving.
  4. Sit tall. Arrange your environment so you don’t have to slump to see your computer screen.
  5. Schedule vocal breaks
If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the above tips, including vocal warm-up ideas, contact us to request your copy of Top 5 Ways to Prepare for a Videoconference.

Many organizations are marking World Voice Day in amazing and creative ways. Check out these resources:


Stuck at home? Make the most of it!

Your time is precious and this is a perfect opportunity for improvement


We have 30-min and 45-min remote sessions on presentation skills, voice and speech improvement, foreign accent reduction, and more.

The sessions are one-on-one with our senior instructor over phone or computer.

If you are a new client, you might get your first session for free (we give away one free session every week!)

Schedule yours now!