• speech;
  • deep brain stimulation;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • predictive factors


Speech changes after bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) can be variable, with the majority of patients experiencing speech deterioration over time. The aim of this study was to describe the perceptual characteristics of speech following chronic STN-DBS and to analyze clinical and surgical factors that could predict speech change. Fifty-four consecutive patients (34 men; mean age ± standard deviation (SD), 58.8 ± 6.3 years; mean ± SD disease duration, 12.5 ± 4.7 years; mean ± SD levodopa equivalent, 1556 ± 671 mg/day; mean ± SD Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor part (UPDRS-III) off-medication score, 48.1 ± 17.9 [range, 20-89]; and mean ± SD UPDRS-III on-medication score, 12.4 ± 7.8 [range, 2-31]) participated in this study. They were assessed before and at 1 year after surgery using the Assessment of Intelligibility for the Dysarthric Speech, the perceptual scale from Darley et al., and the UPDRS-III. Speech intelligibility deteriorated on average by 14.4% (P = 0.0006) after 1 year of STN-DBS when off-medication and by 12.3% (P = 0.001) when on-medication. The effect on speech was not linked to age at surgery, unlike the effect on motor outcome. The most significant predictive factors for deterioration of speech intelligibility when patients were off-medication/on-stimulation were lower preoperative speech intelligibility on-medication, longer disease duration, and medially placed left hemisphere active electrode contact. Speech change after STN-DBS is variable and multifactorial. Consistent preoperative speech evaluation would help inform patients about the possible effects of surgery. Appropriate consideration of speech deficits might assist surgical targeting, particularly of the left electrode. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society