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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

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Parkinson's Disease and Speech Therapy

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What Is Nonverbal Communication?

Nonverbal communication, also called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), is a method of communicating without spoken words.

When communication needs cannot be met through speech, the following techniques can help:

  • Make the best use out of what speaking ability is left.
  • Use expressions and gestures to communicate.

Non-verbal communication can help people with speech difficulties actually speak better by:

  • Reducing the frustration and stress of being unable to communicate.
  • Alleviating the pressure to speak.
  • Allowing the person to be more relaxed and come across in a more understandable manner.

What Devices Can Help Speech for Those With Parkinson's Disease?

Here's a sample of the devices that are available to help people with Parkinson's disease communicate more clearly.

Palatal lift. A dental apparatus that is similar to a retainer. It lifts the soft palate and stops air from escaping out of the nose during speech.

Amplification. A personal amplifier can be used to increase the volume of the voice. The amplifier also decreases voice fatigue.

TTY telephone relay system. A telephone equipped with a keyboard so speech can be typed and read by a relay operator to the listener. Either the whole message can be typed or just the words that are not understood can be typed.

Low technology devices. Notebooks and language boards can be used as an alternative communication techniques.

High technology electronic speech enhancers, communication devices. Computers with voice synthesizers and dedicated communication devices are available.

If you are interested in purchasing an electronic communication aid discuss this with your speech therapist before contacting sales representatives for these devices.

What If I Have an Emergency, How Will I Communicate?

  • Use an intercom system or baby monitor to alert others that there is an emergency.
  • Use bells or buzzers if you are not able to speak. Use "codes" that signify urgency. For example, a tinkling bell may mean, "I'd like company" while an air-horn means there's an emergency.
  • Carry a portable phone that is equipped with pre-programmed numbers.
  • Pre-program all of your telephones so they can automatically dial the necessary emergency number(s).
  • Consider a "life call" button if you spend time alone.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on October 11, 2014
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