||Speech and language therapy
for Parkinson's disease - help with communication and swallowing
"Yes, I also have therapy
for my speech as I have to take my time when I am speaking. Now I know how to
control my volume and people can understand me better"
speech and language therapist specialises in helping with speech and
communication, and also with swallowing problems.
can cause problems with the volume and tone of the voice, with expression
and fluency, and with finding words and sustaining a conversation. The
stiffness of the muscles in PD also leads to loss of facial
expression and body language and less eye contact.
referral and assessment by a speech and language therapist helps to
maintain communication skills. After assessment, they can advise on proper
breathing and posture and on strategies and exercises to improve volume
and expression. Speech and language therapists can also advise if
communication aids and equipment would be useful.
people with PD develop eating and swallowing problems. This is caused by
stiffness and slowness of the muscles involved in chewing and swallowing,
many of which are the same as those involved in speaking. Dribbling or
drooling of saliva or food from the mouth is a common problem.
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and language therapists can assess the quality of swallowing and check
that food is ‘not going down the wrong way’. This can cause coughing
and choking and lead to chest infections. Sometimes a video-Xray can be
useful to identify the problem.
can then be given on the best position and posture when eating and
drinking, on the best consistency and texture of food and fluids, the
speed and method of eating and on special equipment that may be useful.
Alternative forms of medication can be considered if it is difficult to
family members will help to reinforce what has been taught so that it
carries over into everyday life. This also helps to avoid
misunderstanding and frustration.
You may be able to refer
yourself directly to a speech and language therapist, or need a referral
from your family doctor or specialist.
The UK Parkinson’s
Disease Society (telephone +44 (0)20 7931 8080;
publishes free information sheets on communication and speech and language
therapy. A booklet and video
cassette (Face to Face’, by Iona Lister), a handbook with speech therapy
exercises (‘Living with Parkinson’s Disease’) and an audio cassette
of speech exercises are also available.
Technology for Disabilities