Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease: Part 1

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease: Part 1

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year and the incidence of Parkinson’s disease increases with age.

In this mini-series, Allied Services Speech Language Pathologist, Nicole Pelosi looks at aspects of communication that can be affected by PD and offers tips that can supplement speech therapy to improve quality of life for people living with PD.

Part 1: Communication and Parkinson's Disease

Along with noticeable changes in gait and balance people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) may also find it difficult to communicate. This is because PD affects the muscles in the larynx, tongue, lips, and other muscles in the face. When these muscles are affected it can result in one or a combination of the following: hoarse or breathy voice, slurred speech, fast speech, shortness of breath, or a quiet sounding voice.

Any of these can make it difficult for a listener to understand what is being said. This creates a lot of frustration for a person with PD as they may always have someone saying, “What did you say?” or asking them to repeat themselves.

When a person with PD finds it difficult to communicate, they may become withdrawn. They may try to avoid conversation or social situations all together. Communication is an important component in quality of life and confidence, especially for people with PD. Fortunately, there are speech treatment programs proven beneficial for people with PD. These treatment programs are administered by a trained speech-language pathologist.

Here are some strategies for improved speech with PD to supplement your speech therapy treatment plan:

  1. Modify your environment – choose a quiet place so you do not need to ‘talk over’ another person or any background noise.
  2. Speak slowly and over-articulate your speech
  3. Speak in short phrases
  4. Practice good/comfortable posture
  5. Rest – If you know you need to participate in a lot of conversation find a time to rest beforehand.

Learn more about treatment options for Parkinson’s disease at Allied Services.

About the Author: Nicole Pelosi, MS, CCC/SLP works with patients at Allied Services in outpatient, inpatient and home based care settings. Primarily, Nicole serves patients at Allied Services Wilkes-Barre Rehab Center. She possesses a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association. Nicole serve individuals of all ages with a variety of diagnosis including CVA, TBI, post concussive, Parkinson’s disease, Voice Disorders, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Autism, language delay/disorders, articulation disorders, and phonological disorders.