Parkinson’s disease patients often experience difficulties with their voices: modulations in the speech change and the voice can get a bit breathy. On the occasion of the 4th i-PROGNOSIS consortium meeting, Prof. Julia Johnson, Clinical Lead Speech and Language therapist at the Kings College Hospital gave a presentation about voice and swallowing-related symptoms of Parkinson’s.
With PD, voice volume can drop to a lower level of decibels. Some people may develop a stammer, speech may become much more rushed, etc. If tongue gets tremulous, articulation in the mouth gets difficult and people with PD are not able to speak as clearly as they used to. Vocal symptoms are the most prominent at very early stages. Yet, at the very early stages of the disease, symptoms rarely noticed by the patients themselves but families report having troubles understanding their relative.
“Vocal symptoms are the most prominent ones
at very early stages.”
Parkinson’s disease also have impact on swallowing: people with PD drink more slowly, have difficulties with dribbling, they may be coughing. While having difficulties to drink, early PD patients may not drink enough during the day and thus worsen constipation problems that are often reported by people with PD.
“Singing and dancing are very good therapies
for people with Parkinson’s!”
These symptoms can be hard to notice as people with PD will experience motor symptoms when speaking and walking but will not when singing or dancing for instance.
This is the difference physicians make between voluntary and involuntary motor programs. The voluntary motor program is usually preserved in Parkinson’s reminded Prof. Julia Johnson – which make singing and dancing very good therapies!