How to deal with communication problems in Parkinson’s disease?

The neurological dysfunction of Parkinson’s disease can affect the motor mechanisms of communication and swallowing. It is known that approximately 60-90% of Parkinson’s sufferers have some form of speech and voice disorder.

In Parkinson’s disease there are alterations of the respiratory, phonatory or laryngeal, velopharyngeal and articulatory systems:

  1. Poor articulatory precision with initial hesitations and brief precipitations that may hinder speech intelligibility.
  2. It also includes a phono-respiratory deficit, with weak, muffled, hoarse, blown, tremulous and/or intermittent voice. There is often a progressive loss of voice volume, sometimes leading to hypophonia.
  3. On the other hand, there is an affectation of prosodic aspects, there is a tendency to accelerate the rhythm of speech with loss of articulatory control and to not mark changes in intonation and melody.

Treatment

Speech therapy focuses on improving the impaired components of speech and swallowing, as well as maximizing those skills that are preserved.

There is a great diversity of different methods for the treatment of speech and voice disorders, although all of them focus on working on Relaxation, Posture, Breathing, Phonation, Articulation and Prosody.

Our team elaborated a guide “Physical, speech and voice exercises for Parkinson’s patients”, where rehabilitation exercises for the maintenance of motor and communication skills are compiled. This is the first guide for patients where practical exercises are written to stop the physical and speech symptoms.

These exercises have no medical contraindications, but they must be carried out during the ON phase (i.e. the phase in which the medication is taking effect), and must be done regularly, on a daily basis, and rested when fatigue appears.

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As far as the development of the therapy is concerned, it will depend on the schedule agreed between the patient and the center. Two annual assessments of the patient’s condition will be made to adapt the objectives to be worked on. We also do online therapy and home visits for those affected who have mobility problems, or can not move to the center.