Research reveals impact of thinking difficulties on communication in Parkinson's

Research published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease on 18 March has shed new light on speech problems in Parkinson's. It suggests that thinking difficulties may be more to blame than physical symptoms.

Researchers sifted through previously published research to find 12 relevant studies involving 222 people with Parkinson’s. These studies helped to understand the role of cognitive difficulties in speech problems.

The physical symptoms of Parkinson’s can make it more difficult for others to understand a person's speech, but researchers now think that cognitive difficulties may play a greater role when holding a conversation.

However the researchers highlighted that larger studies in this area are needed before any definitive statements can be made.

The importance of communication

Communication is essential for developing and maintaining relationships. People with Parkinson’s can have problems with different kinds of communication, including speech, facial expressions and writing.

Speech problems may start when people first develop the condition. This can make actions such as talking to friends or using the phone difficult, and impact on a person’s quality of life.

Daiga Heisters, Head of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network at Parkinson’s UK said:

“We know how important it is that speech and language therapy for people with Parkinson’s takes account of cognitive issues alongside physical speech problems.

"This is why it is essential that people with Parkinson’s are able to see a speech and language therapist with an understanding of the condition, who is able to focus on the specific needs of the individual.”