Did you know that 7 to 10 million people worldwide are affected by Parkinson’s Disease? Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about how autism impacts communication to support Autism Awareness Month. But April also happens to be Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month! In support of this campaign and to help raise awareness, today we’ll talk about what Parkinson’s Disease is, how it affects communication, and how working with a speech-language pathologist can help.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder that causes cell death in a specific part of the brain that controls movement. Parkinson’s causes tremors, slow movement, stiffness, and a loss of balance and coordination. As the disease progresses, disturbances and changes in mood, thinking, and behavior may occur as well.
The changes in movement that happen in Parkinson’s Disease can affect the way a person speaks. A reported 89 percent of people with Parkinson’s Disease develop speech or voice problems . Difficulty coordinating the muscles in the mouth and jaw can make speech sound slurred and difficulty to understand. It is also very common for a person with Parkinson’s Disease to start speaking much more softly than they did before, making it difficult for others to understand their speech. A speech-language pathologist often works closely with patients with Parkinson’s Disease to help them learn strategies to make their speech more understandable to others. They can also work on specially developed training programs developed to increase volume and minimize further loss over time.
In addition to voice and speech problems, a person with Parkinson’s disease may also have difficulty swallowing, as they lose coordination in the muscles of the mouth and throat. A speech-language pathologist can help teach compensatory strategies to improve safety in swallowing and make recommendations to change the texture of food to make swallowing safer if necessary.
Has Parkinson’s Disease affected your life or the life of someone you love? What challenges have you faced and how have you worked through them? Share your story in our comments section below.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
© 2016, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved