Proactive: Frank Morgan is urging other people with Parkinson’s disease to take action against their symptoms. Picture: Warren Lynam
Proactive: Frank Morgan is urging other people with Parkinson’s disease to take action against their symptoms. Picture: Warren Lynam

'It sneaks up on you': Diagnosis sparks call for action

A COAST man whose life changed after his Parkinson's diagnosis is urging those with the disease to be proactive before they are left with severe consequences.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's three years ago, 76-year-old Frank Morgan was determined to maintain his quality of life and has taken part in numerous programs including one from Nambour's new charity Restoring Hope Parkinson's Therapy.

After realising what impact the disease could have on his voice, Mr Morgan started a treatment program delivered by the Nambour-based charity.

"I just thought you got balance issues and walking issues and things like that, but I missed losing the voice issues," he said.

"We had a neighbour who had Parkinson's for a long time and in the end, he lost his voice completely … he did the exercises but was too embarrassed to do them at home.

"It bought home to me what the consequences are if you don't do anything about your voice."

The charity which specialises in speech pathology for people living with Parkinson's disease on the Sunshine Coast delivers the SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd programs developed by the Parkinson's Voice Project in the USA.

Speech pathologist Cathryn Shapter, along with Louise Williams and Karen Malcolm, registered the charity at the beginning of this year after they attended the Parkinson Voice Project's annual conference in Dallas, Texas, last year.

Ms Shapter said the women felt it was important to aid those with Parkinson's disease.

"Around 90 per cent of people with Parkinson's disease experience some problems with their speech and also with their swallowing skills because of the effect it has on muscle movement," she said.

"They will often find their voice becomes very quiet and their speech sounds can become indistinct and the rate might change it could be come rapid or slow down.

"So, it becomes difficult for people to understand them and it's a time when they really need to be supported by others and communicating with people and they find it that its difficult to do so."

Mr Morgan said his voice had improved dramatically since starting the program.

"I didn't realise how bad it was, my voice was very low decibels and it was monotone, there was no emotions in it at all," he said.

"I used to order a pizza and I could never understand why they weren't getting the name right.

"I can't emphasise enough that you need to get a program that helps you manage these problems because if its left alone you are just going to go to pieces.

"It's a terrible disease and it sneaks up on you."