Skip to content

    Parkinson's Disease Health Center

    Font Size

    Thought Processing Concerns Parkinson's Patients

    Those with thinking difficulties struggle to follow conversations or recall words

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Robert Preidt

    HealthDay Reporter

    FRIDAY, March 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Declines in thinking skills could have a greater impact on Parkinson's disease patients' ability to converse than physical problems, according to a British study.

    "Around 70 percent of people with Parkinson's have problems with speech and communication, which can really impact their quality of life," said lead investigator Maxwell Barnish, formerly of the University of East Anglia, in England.

    "Researchers and clinicians have in the past focused on the physical problems patients have with making their speech clear," he explained in a university news release. "But patients themselves say the problems are more complex and are more to do with . . . not being able to think quickly enough to keep up with conversations or not being able to find the right words."

    Cognitive impairment is the general term for these thinking difficulties. And patients say "this has the biggest impact on their ability to communicate in everyday life," Barnish said.

    He and his colleagues reviewed 12 studies that included a total of 222 Parkinson's disease patients. They found that both thinking and physical problems are associated with speech difficulties, but that patients with greater mental decline had more difficulty conversing.

    The findings appear March 18 in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.

    Researcher Katherine Deane, of the University of East Anglia, said in the news release, "What this research tells us is that speech and language therapists need to assess the [thinking] problems of people with Parkinson's as well as their speech clarity when trying to improve everyday communication.

    "It may be that patients who are struggling with thinking quickly need different communication strategies to help them in everyday life," Deane said.

    Today on WebMD

    Parkinsons disease illustration
    Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    hands on walker
    How does the disease progress?
    man with serious expression
    8 common questions and answers.
    intelligence quotient illustration
    What are the advantages of DBS?
    Parkinsons Disease Medications
    Questions Doctor Parkinsons
    Eating Right
    Parkinsons Exercise
    daughter consoling depressed mother
    senior man's hands
    Parkinsons Daily