Recognising and responding to communication and swallowing difficulties in Parkinson’s disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Communication difficulties, including hypokinetic dysarthria and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia), affect a large percentage of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Onset of these symptoms has been identified in up to 78% of people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. Communication difficulties are frequently disregarded until they have a significant impact on quality of life, while the person may often be unaware of indicators of dysphagia and the associated risk of aspiration pneumonia. Objective The aim of this article is to increase awareness of the importance of identifying and addressing the communication and swallowing difficulties experienced by people living with Parkinson’s disease. Discussion Early identification, regular review and monitoring enable the clinician to support the implementation of evidence-based, effective interventions. Collaboration with the multidisciplinary team, including speech pathology, is needed to enable the person to live well with Parkinson’s disease and to prevent aspiration pneumonia, a leading cause of death in Parkinson’s disease. A vignette prepared in collaboration with a person living with Parkinson’s disease and his wife provides an ‘insider perspective’ of the pervasive impact of difficulties with communication and swallowing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of General Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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