Last week I presented a community lecture on Swallowing problems associated with Parkinson’s disease. When presenting information to an audience of people with Parkinson’s (PWP), I try to provide up to date information gathered from the dysphagia research. I also try hard not to overwhelm people with information that might sound scary or depressing by balancing factual information with concrete suggestions of things participants can do right here and right now, to reduce the impact of a swallowing problem if they have been diagnosed with dysphagia, or to delay the onset of swallowing symptoms that we know affect anywhere from 80-100% of individuals with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

So, at the end of my lecture, I presented suggestions for a Swallowing Preparedness Kit, borrowing from the idea of Hurricane preparedness, which those of us who live in Florida or other hurricane prone areas are well aware of.

Ahead of every hurricane season, new residents to Florida, in particular, are encouraged to attend a Hurricane preparedness seminar and learn about what they need to do to prepare themselves and their family for a storm by gathering the necessary supplies, and also learning about what needs to be done to strengthen their homes to withstand a storm.

So, similarly, I suggest to persons with a Parkinson’s diagnosis that they also be prepared to recognize the symptoms of a swallowing problem, which might include: coughing or throat clearing during or after eating; a history of aspiration pneumonia or recurrent upper respiratory tract infections; drooling (daytime drooling has a high association with “silent aspiration”), and a wet or gurgly voice during or after eating.

In addition to recognizing the symptoms of a swallowing problem PWP can build a Swallowing Preparedness Kit which includes:

  • Oral hygiene, aspiration and reflux precautions if indicated.
  • Early referral to swallowing therapist.
  • Adherence to medication schedule.
  • Adherence to swallowing exercise recommendations.
  • Perform respiratory strengthening exercise/s for pulmonary hygiene and cough strength.
  • Participate in general exercise for strength and mobility and to reduce fall risk.
  • Notify your neurologist if hospitalized.
  • Notify hospital or nursing facility staff regarding medication schedule.
  • Request assistance with positioning for meals.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease that you will likely live many years with. It is also a disease with many symptoms that are improved or reduced with exercise, and swallowing function can also be improved, and dysphagia risks reduced with the implementation of behavioral strategies and exercise/s.

Upcoming Lecture Swallowing and Parkinson’s Port Charlotte, Florida

On Saturday, October 12, 2019 from 9-12pm, Neurochallenge Foundation will sponsor a lecture discussing Swallowing and Parkinson’s disease   as a part of their Distinguished Speakers Event being held at the Murdock Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, Fl. Also speaking will be London Butterfield, Ph.D., Clinical Neuropsychologist who will discuss Tools for Enhancing Cognitive Fitness and Memory.

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My MissionTo enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP                                                                          FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice

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