Parkinson Disease & Language

Developing a language protocol to support communication with people who have Parkinson’s.

Parkinson Disease & Language.At a recent PPI event in Bristol, people with Parkinson’s (PwP) expressed their desire to explore the language problems which arise from the disease and to have strategies and therapy that are specific to them. This desire fits with established research which indicates that the language impairment experienced by PwP differs to that seen more frequently in people with aphasia as a result of stroke or traumatic head injury.  The ‘Guidelines for Speech-Language Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease’ and the UK Parkinson’s Audit highlight the need for speech and language therapists (SLT) to ask PwP about any difficulty they might have finding words and participating in conversation but as yet it is not recommended to administer a formal language test.  Following the introduction of this question, local speech and language therapists report an increasing number of PwP affirming the presence of language impairment and the need to address it.

There is currently no validated or standardised language assessment for PwP nor agreed strategies to help alleviate the effects of those language problems. Stephanie Ticehurst is interested in developing a language assessment protocol alongside PwP to ensure that it is  meaningful,  effective, practical and efficient for SLT to use in clinic.