When are high-tech communicators effective in Parkinson’s disease?

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This report describes a 63-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease showing loss of intelligibility of speech and severely impaired handwriting, despite undergoing physical and speech therapies. As the patient had sufficient residual motor abilities and adequate cognitive function and motivation, a computer-based communication aid with a software program for word prediction and voice output was tested, and was prescribed after a training period. One year later, the patient was still using the customized device to communicate and for leisure time, showing a high degree of satisfaction with the aid (assessed by QUEST 2.0), which had a positive impact on her well-being and quality of life (assessed by Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scales). In conclusion, in selected patients with Parkinson’s disease, high-tech augmentative and alternative communication devices may be considered, tested, and prescribed after a positive training period. Follow-ups are necessary to monitor the effectiveness of the assistive device and respond to specific patient needs that may arise with using the device.

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