The Parkinson Alliance Reports Survey Findings on Swallowing and Parkinson’s Disease From the Patient’s Perspective

KINGSTON, N.J., November 13, 2017 – The Parkinson Alliance released the results of their 27th survey-based research entitled, Swallowing and Parkinson’s Disease: The Patient’s Perspective, based on self-report questionnaires from 1,390 individuals with Parkinson’s disease who were asked about their experience with swallowing and quality of life. The survey conducted by The Parkinson Alliance found that 67% of the participants reported that they experience swallowing difficulties and over half said that the issues have had a negative impact on their quality of life. Despite the high percentage of individuals who revealed that they have challenges in swallowing, only 34% of the participants have had a swallowing evaluation, with even fewer having received formal treatment.

Other research has identified that for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, swallowing dysfunction can lead to isolation, emotional disturbance, reduced quality of life, additional medical problems such as respiratory infections and pneumonia, and even mortality. Our survey was designed to obtain the patient’s perspective not only about swallowing difficulties but also about intervention and its impact on their quality of life.

Our survey’s results are consistent with previous research highlighting that swallowing impairments may indeed be underdiagnosed, underestimated, and undertreated. Increased awareness of and assessment and intervention for swallowing difficulties for individuals with Parkinson’s disease is needed, given its prevalence as noted in our report, and the risks for life-threatening consequences resulting from it.

Margaret Tuchman, Founder of The Parkinson Alliance and co-author of the report, stated, “I have come to realize how challenges in swallowing are significant to my physical health and emotional well-being. Comments from survey participants are included in the report and suggest that there are quite a few swallowing issues that may be under-reported, and individuals with Parkinson’s disease may benefit from receiving professional help such as with a speech/swallowing therapist.”

Recommendations pertaining to swallowing for individuals with Parkinson’s disease are discussed in the report.

Download the full report here.

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