Parkinson’s Disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson’s Disease is a disabling condition of the brain characterized by slowness of movement, shaking, stiffness, and in the later stages, loss of balance. Many of these symptoms are due to the loss of certain nerves in the brain, which results in the lack of a chemical called dopamine. The progression of Parkinson’s Disease varies from individual to individual. Some of the symptoms of PD are a tremor or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face as well as stiffness of the limbs and trunk. The speech and language difficulties associated with PD are dysarthria, low vocal loudness and swallowing difficulties.
Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson's Disease has associated speech and swallowing difficulties.
SPEECH: The name for the type of speech problem associated with Parkinson’s disease is dysarthria. Dysarthria is a general term that refers to an entire group of speech disorders which result from impaired muscular control of speech production.
VOICE: Loss of volume in voice can affect patient's with Parkinson's. Overall loss of voice volume can be one of the first symptoms of hypokinetic dysarthria. The physiologic basis for decreased ability to speak at an acceptable level of loudness is rigidity and/or stiffness of muscles of breathing, since exhaled air is the power behind our voice. Stiffness in the breathing muscles also impairs voice volume, as these muscles normally are elastic and therefore can move with variable force and speed
SWALLOWING difficulties (dysphagia) are also associated with PD. Because the disease may disrupt the normal sensations in the throat, some patients with Parkinson's may not be aware if food or liquid “goes down the wrong way” or gets “stuck” in the throat.
Speech and Language Therapist can do an assessment of the speech, voice and swallowing of the patient who presents with Parkinson's Disease.
Based on a thorough assessment the SLT will then devise a programme to focus on the main areas of difficulty. Treatment will involve education on how your speech, voice or swallow has been affected. The aim is then to work on managing the symptoms through exercises and using compensatory strategies to help with loss of function in either speech, voice or swallowing.
Each treatment programme is individually tailored. Specific exercises will be given to help improve speech, voice and swallowing for example exercises that improve breath support for speech, which improves voice loudness and the quality of voice. Lee Silverman voice training is one such programme which Speech and Language Therapists use to treat the voice difficulties associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
As part of the treatment plan our Speech and Language Therapist will also liaise with the SLT in the hospital and other involved healthcare professionals to ensure continuity of care.
Our Speech and Language Therapists here at Spectrum Health provide specialised treatment for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) to help them maintain their communication skills and manage other symptoms. As the disease progresses the muscles weaken, which means speaking clearly or intelligibly and swallowing often becomes a little more difficult for PD patients. Spectrum Health Speech and Language Therapists can assist Parkinson’s patients in trying to maintain skills, manage symptoms and adopt compensatory strategies for loss of function.
We will assess, diagnose and provide treatment for communication and swallowing difficulties. All of Spectrum Health’s Adult Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with adults who have Parkinson’s Disease.