Communication changes in Parkinson’s disease

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This review looks at the nature and impact of communication changes in Parkinson’s disease, approaches to assessment and directions for intervention. This is especially important since medical and surgical interventions that help limb movement are largely ineffective, or even detrimental, for speech. Most people with Parkinson’s disease notice changes to their communication. Voice alters early on—even in the prodromal stage. Later, articulation may impair intelligibility further. These changes impact on mood and social participation. However, a full characterisation of communication changes in Parkinson’s must acknowledge that changes are far more pervasive and varied than a quiet voice. Communication is affected by marked dysprosody, cognitive-linguistic impairment, alterations to social interaction and pragmatics. Changes entail not just expressive elements but also receptive. A comprehensive evaluation of potential communication challenges faced by people with Parkinson’s disease must cover all these aspects. Similarly, interventions that ignore the breadth and depth of changes will always remain incomplete.

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