News ArchivesRead News

Parkinson's Effect on Speech Fosters Isolation

Wednesday June 19, 2013

Ed Susman

MedPage Today - A new study demonstrated that subtle changes in speech can impact the ability of Parkinson's patients to communicate and may result in further isolation from the community, researchers said here.

Patients participating in the Factors Affecting the Speech of People with Parkinson's Disease Study scored an average 14.8 percentage points lower in their ability to communicate intended emotions compared with controls (P=0.02), Maxwell Barnish, a PhD candidate at University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and colleagues found.

In his poster presentation at the International Congress on Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders, Barnish noted that the communication and emotional conveyance were both predicted by patients' cognitive status as measured by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

"Cognitive impairment significantly affects speech and communication in Parkinson's disease," he said. "This leads to reduced communicative participation."

Parkinson's patients were stratified by the median score on the test, and those who scored lower than or equal to 23 also measured 16.7 percentage points lower, on average, in their ability to convey emotion, he told MedPage Today. Cognitive status predicted 19% of the variance in communicative participation, which was statistically significant (P<0.05), he said.

For the study, the researchers recruited 45 people with Parkinson's disease and 29 people who were friends or relatives of the patients. All were from various areas of the U.K. and all were white. The patients were about 70 years of age, and ranged from 48 to 93 years.

The group was not gender-balanced, with a predominance of men in the patients and a predominance of women among the controls. The difference was controlled for in the analysis, Barnish said.

"The majority of Parkinson's patients in this study had mild speech impairments, but this impairment had a substantial impact on everyday communication tasks," Barnish explained. "The qualitative analysis we performed indicated that patients were anxious about their speech and that voices sounded different."

Barnish suggested that their anxiety and perceived voice change might lead to them become less outgoing.

Previous research had not focused on the relationship between cognitive status and everyday communication, hence Barnish attempted to define these relationships.

"Further research is required to determine how these findings can be applied in speech and language therapy for Parkinson's disease," he added.

Alison Yarnall, MD, of the University of Newcastle in England, told MedPage Today, "This is an interesting area of study. Obviously speech and communication are important aspects of daily living that can be interrupted by Parkinson's disease."

"Drugs in Parkinson's disease are well studied with big randomized clinical trials, but things like speech therapy and physical therapy, which can make a massive difference to patients, are often not well studied," she said. Yarnall said she was interested in seeing how further research in the field could impact treatment decisions and resource implementation.

Recent News

Nov 22 - A caregiver's story: Living and loving through the slow process of dying
Nov 19 - Testosterone cause of sex differences in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease, new research suggests
Nov 18 - New strategy reduces side effects in Parkinson's treatment
Nov 14 - Opinion: The never-ending tests of Parkinson's disease
Nov 13 - Parkinson’s disease: A new tool for diagnosis
Nov 10 - Parkinson's Disease Drug May Be Useful For Delaying, Preventing Blindness In Older Population
Nov 9 - Microsoft VP’s diagnosis fuels employees’ heartfelt efforts to help others
Nov 6 - Lewy body dementia: unrecognized and misdiagnosed
Nov 5 - Gait difficulties in Parkinson's linked to new blood vessels in brain
Oct 30 - Special Section: Enabling Technologies for Parkinson’s Disease Management
Oct 27 - Scientists discover a 'switchboard' of molecules that protect against Parkinson's disease
Oct 26 - Dancing improves mobility and quality of life in people with Parkinson's
Oct 23 - The amazing woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease — before symptoms appear
Oct 20 - Personal Essay: The deviousness of dementia
Oct 19 - Mechanism that 'melts' protein clumps may lead to new Parkinson's treatments
Oct 19 - Researchers find that stem cell treatment may reduce cognitive impairment related to dementia with Lewy bodies
Oct 17 - Cancer Drug Helps Parkinson's Patients
Oct 12 - Researchers identify immune gene that can prevent Parkinson's disease and dementia
Oct 12 - Blog Post: An Alert, Well-Hydrated Artist in No Acute Distress
Oct 7 - This month, a brain surgery will be broadcast on live TV for the first time ever