Rock Steady Boxing: A Great Addition to Your Parkinson’s Voice Exercise Toolkit

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Rock Steady Boxing: A Unique Philosophy

Rock Steady Boxing was founded on the philosophy that people living with Parkinson’s disease can fight back against the condition through non-contact boxing-style fitness routines. The program encourages participants to push their limits, defy the odds, and take an active role in managing their health. However, what truly sets Rock Steady Boxing apart is its commitment to addressing various facets of Parkinson’s disease, including the often-overlooked vocal challenges.

Classes: More than Just a Workout

Rock Steady Boxing classes are designed to be engaging and effective for individuals with Parkinson’s. The classes, whether done online or in person include a combination of physical exercises to improve strength, coordination, balance, mental focus, and confidence. A unique aspect to the classes is the inclusion of Voice Activation exercises to improve vocal strength, quality and stamina.Β 

Let’s Get LOUD!

Voice Activation exercises are a standout feature of the Rock Steady Boxing program. As participants engage in the physical workouts, they’re encouraged to perform loud vocalizations. For example participants may loudly verbalize their punching combinations: JAB! CROSS! LEFT HOOK! UPPERCUT! This combination of physical exercise and voice activation is a powerful tool in addressing the vocal challenges often faced by individuals with Parkinson’s.

Barb, a dedicated Rock Steady Boxing coach from Gaitway Neurophysio in Ontario, Canada shared some insights into the Voice Activation components she uses in her classes. Barb explained that she often incorporates brisk marching as a warm-up exercise. While her class marches and vigorously swings their arms, they are encouraged to count down loudly from 10. This simple yet effective exercise not only warms up the body but also engages the voice, helping to strengthen vocal projection.

The Power of Dual Tasking

Dual tasking is an important component to include in any Parkinson specific exercise. This approach involves performing two or more tasks simultaneously, such as counting out loud while exercising. It challenges the brain to work on multiple fronts, ultimately strengthening cognitive functions. This is especially beneficial for individuals with Parkinson’s, as general cognition can decline as the disease progresses.

A Finishing Touch: The Voice Activation Cheer

Coach Barb loves to conclude each class with a Voice Activation cheer. The cheer adds an element of fun and camaraderie to the class, further enhancing the socialization aspect of Rock Steady Boxing. Her members particularly enjoy the following cheer: Imagine singing this to the US army drill chant…

🎡 “I don’t know what you’ve been told. Parkinson’s is gettin’ old. We don’t let it get us down. Because we’re fighting every round. At the end of the day we’re proud to say. Fighting back ROCK STEADY way!!” 🎡

This cheer exemplifies the resilient spirit and unwavering determination of Rock Steady Boxing participants, who are united in their fight against Parkinson’s.

Rock Steady Boxing is a dynamic fitness program for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. It offers not only physical exercise and social interaction but also invaluable voice activation exercises. The “dual tasking” approach strengthens cognition, and the Voice Activation cheer fosters a sense of community and support.

The “Rock Steady” way is all about standing strong and fighting back against Parkinson’s, one punch, and one loud cheer at a time. So, if you’re looking to expand your toolkit for managing Parkinson’s, Rock Steady Boxing might just be the perfect addition you’ve been searching for.

Find a Rock Steady Boxing class near you using their handy SEARCH TOOL

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Reduced Focus When Reading: 8 Tips for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

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Reduced Focus When Reading: The Struggle is REAL for those with PD

Are you a book lover who’s noticing significantly reduced focus when reading? Are you finding it increasingly challenging to concentrate on the pages of your favorite novel? You’re not alone. Parkinson’s disease, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide, can bring about cognitive slowing, impacting your focus and attention while reading. But why does cognitive slowing occur in Parkinson’s and more importantly what strategies can we implement to help maintain better focus when reading?

Understanding Cognitive Slowing in Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. While we often associate it with physical symptoms like tremors and rigidity, it can also affect cognitive functions. This cognitive slowing can manifest in various ways, including memory problems, difficulties with attention and focus, and reduced cognitive flexibility. These cognitive processes are referred to as our executive functions.

The Culprit Behind Reduced Focus When Reading

The cognitive slowing experienced in Parkinson’s is responsible for the frustrating experience of reading a sentence multiple times and still not comprehending it. It’s essential to recognize that this phenomenon of reduced focus when reading is a consequence of your brain’s altered chemistry and processing capabilities.

8 Tips to Improve Focus While Reading

As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve worked with many individuals with Parkinson’s and have seen firsthand how these strategies can help maintain focus when reading.

  1. Be Strategic with Reading Time: Identify the time of day when your concentration is at its peak. For some, it’s first thing in the morning, after a cup of coffee, or post-nap. Choose these periods for your reading sessions to maximize your focus.
  2. Reduce Auditory and Visual Distractions: Minimize disruptions by turning off radios and televisions. Find a quiet, peaceful space away from bustling household activities. Research shows that choosing the same location to read can help improve focus as it tells your brain this is a produtive spot. Interestingly, certain sounds and music can aid concentration. Explore YouTube for playlists designed to improve focus.
  3. Take Scheduled Breaks: Divide your reading into focused periods followed by intentional breaks. Set a timer for 5 minutes of reading and then enjoy a 5-minute break. Gradually extend your reading time as your focus improves.
  4. Stay Physically Active: Physical exercise plays a pivotal role in enhancing your mood, focus, and overall mental sharpness. Research has revealed that elevating your heart rate during exercise has a significant impact on enhancing concentration and memory. The positive effects of exercise on your cognitive abilities can make you an instant and more effective reader. These advantages are often immediately noticeable, so it’s advisable to engage in your reading activities promptly after physical activity.
  5. Read Aloud: Not only is reading aloud a fantastic voice exercise for Parkinson’s (remember think LOUD, CLEAR AND CONTROLLED!) it can also sharpen your focus and eliminate distractions. The act of articulating the words reinforces your comprehension and keeps your mind engaged.
  6. Use a Pointer for Your Eyes to Follow: Use a pen, a chopstick, or even your finger to slide along the lines of text as you read. This technique is remarkably effective in enhancing your concentration and maintaining a smooth reading experience. Our eyes naturally trail movement, which keeps your attention firmly fixed on the sentence you’re currently reading. Consequently, you’re less likely to drift across the page, screen, or room, reducing distractions.
  7. Practice Meditation or Mindfulness: In a world filled with constant sources of anxiety and distraction, the ability to clear your mind becomes not only a pathway to happiness but also a key to becoming a more proficient reader. In a comfortable and quiet space, you can learn to empty your mind, allowing thoughts to enter your awareness and then gracefully pass through without clinging to them. Practicing meditation or mindfulness hones your ability to concentrate, sharpening your mind and preparing it for the immersive experience of reading.
  8. Be Kind to Yourself: Remember that your focus and attention may fluctuate due to various factors, such as fatigue, anxiety, stress, life events, and medication off periods. It’s essential to be understanding and patient with yourself. If reading becomes too challenging, consider trying audiobooks to continue enjoying the magic of storytelling.

Reduced Focus When Reading: Not an Insurmountable Barrier!

While it’s a fact of life that Parkinson’s may slow your cognitive processes resulting in reduced focus when reading, it doesn’t have to dull your passion for delving into your favourite books and magazines. By implementing these strategies and being mindful of your unique needs and capabilities, you can continue to explore new worlds through the pages of your favorite books. Embrace these tips, stay positive, and remember that with a bit of adjustment and flexibility the joy of reading is always within reach.

5 Life-Changing Benefits of Mindfulness Practice in Parkinson’s Disease

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In this article, we’ll explore what mindfulness means and how it can offer substantial life-changing benefits to those living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Life with Parkinson’s presents unique challenges that can sometimes feel overwhelming. The tremors, stiffness, communication challenges and general uncertainty about the future can take a toll on both physical and emotional well-being. However, there is a powerful tool that can help ease these challenges and improve your quality of life – mindfulness.

Understanding Mindfulness πŸ’­

Mindfulness is the innate ability we all possess to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing. It’s about living in the moment, without judgment or distraction, and embracing life as it unfolds. While this practice may seem simple, its impact on our lives can be profound.

Benefits for Individuals with Parkinson’s DiseaseΒ 

Research has shown that regular mindful practice can be exceptionally beneficial for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. Here are just some of the remarkable advantages it can offer:

Reducing Stress Levels 😌

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly stressful, both physically and emotionally. Mindfulness allows you to step back from the chaos of your thoughts and the symptoms you experience. By being fully present in the moment, you can reduce stress levels and cultivate a sense of calm and serenity.

Combating Depression and Anxiety πŸ˜”

Depression and anxiety often accompany chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease. Mindfulness practice can help you navigate these emotions by teaching you to acknowledge them without judgment. It provides you with the tools to manage these feelings and reduce their impact on your daily life.

Regulating Emotions 😊

Parkinson’s disease can sometimes make emotions feel overwhelming and difficult to control. Mindfulness helps you develop emotional awareness, allowing you to better understand and regulate your feelings. This can lead to improved emotional stability and resilience.

Increasing Focus πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ

Parkinson’s symptoms can sometimes make it challenging to concentrate. Mindfulness involves training your mind to focus on the present moment. This improved concentration can enhance your cognitive abilities and make daily tasks more manageable.

Improving Physical Well-being πŸ’ͺ

Mindfulness is not just about the mind; it’s about the body too. By practicing mindfulness, you can increase your body awareness, which may help you better manage physical symptoms. Additionally, it can improve balance and coordination, which are often affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Embracing the Present Moment πŸ˜€

In essence, mindfulness teaches us that all we have is the present moment. By altering the way we think about the past and future, we can profoundly impact our overall health and well-being. Rather than dwelling on the limitations imposed by Parkinson’s disease, mindfulness encourages us to focus on what we can do now, in this very moment.

Getting Started πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ

If you’re new to the concept, it’s essential to start slowly and be patient with yourself. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Find a Quiet Space: Choose a peaceful environment where you can sit or lie down comfortably without distractions.
  2. Focus on Your Breath: Pay attention to your breath as it flows in and out. Breathe naturally, and if your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
  3. Stay Non-Judgmental: Remember that mindful practice is about accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. If negative emotions arise, acknowledge them without self-criticism.
  4. Start Small: Begin with short sessions, maybe just a few minutes a day, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.
  5. Consider Guided Practices: There are many mindfulness apps and resources available that offer guided meditation and mindful exercises designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. Try this Mindfulness Practice for Parkinson’s Disease.

In the journey of living with Parkinson’s disease, mindfulness can be a powerful ally. By embracing the present moment and practicing regularly, you can reduce stress, combat depression and anxiety, regulate your emotions, increase your focus, and improve your physical well-being. Remember that it is not a quick fix, but rather a lifelong skill that can profoundly enhance your quality of life. So, take a deep breath, be present, and let mindfulness lead you towards a more balanced and fulfilling life with Parkinson’s disease.

The Magic of Music Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinson’s and Music Therapy

Recent studies in neuroscience have unveiled the astonishing power of music therapy and music and rhythm based activities to improve communication in Parkinson’s, offering a ray of hope to those affected by the condition. Living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can be a challenging journey.

The neurological condition, characterized by the gradual loss of control over movement, often brings with it a host of other difficulties, including communication problems and also swallowing difficulty. However, in the midst of this struggle, there is a remarkable ally: music.

Dopamine and the Feel-Good Factor

In the realm of Parkinson’s research, dopamine takes center stage. This neurotransmitter is significantly reduced in individuals with Parkinson’s, contributing to the motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease. But here’s where music therapy works its magic.

Studies have shown that music has the ability to stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain. When we listen to or play music, our brain undergoes a remarkable transformation. Not only does it change structurally, but it also triggers an emotional response that leads to the release of dopamine, often referred to as the feel-good neurotransmitter.

This chemical messenger plays a crucial role in carrying information between neurons, and its boost can have a profound impact on individuals with Parkinson’s.

Moreover, music therapy and music based activities have been found to decrease the production of cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone, and increase the production of immune system-enhancing cells, effectively helping to fend off viruses. These biological effects of music alone make it a powerful tool in the battle against Parkinson’s.

Tremor Control

One of the most challenging aspects of Parkinson’s is the occurrence of involuntary movements, known as dyskinesia. These movements can disrupt daily life, impede relaxation, and even interfere with sleep. However, slow rhythmic music has the remarkable ability to slow down overactive body rhythms, inducing a sense of relaxation and promoting better sleep quality. It’s a simple yet effective way to regain control over one’s body and peace of mind.

The Foundation of Communication

Music is often described as the universal language, and it’s a concept that holds immense value for speech therapists and music therapists. In the realm of communication, music takes on a transformative role. For instance, Melodic Intonation Therapy, employed by speech-language pathologists, incorporates musical elements into speech therapy to enhance language production. This technique has been instrumental in the rehabilitation of individuals with speech production disorders, including those with Parkinson’s.

Mental Health Benefits Galore

Beyond its role in communication, music offers an array of mental health benefits. It serves as exercise for the brain, body, and voice. Singing, for example, encourages breath control, strengthens vocal muscles, and improves voice quality. It also enhances laryngeal movement and aids in controlling fluency and pacing of speech.

Improvements in Cognition

Moreover, singing lyrics can be a powerful memory aid. Music-based cues help with recall, focus, recognition, and attention span. The rhythmic element of music amplifies the connection between listening and movement, improving step length, coordination, balance, and posture. It becomes a template for organizing a series of movements and helps combat cognitive issues that affect movement function.

Rhythmic Auditory Cueing: A Game-Changer

One groundbreaking technique is rhythmic auditory cueing, where rhythm is used to facilitate movement and improve gait. Many people with Parkinson’s find that moving or walking to a rhythm significantly enhances their mobility. Music provides the rhythmic structure needed to coordinate both physical movement and voice/speech movement, making it a versatile and invaluable tool.

Making Music a Therapeutic Part of Your Parkinson’s Journey

Incorporating music into your daily routine can be surprisingly simple and incredibly rewarding. Here are some suggestions to get started:

The Transformative Gift of Music

The magic of music therapy in improving communication in Parkinson’s is a testament to the incredible power of art and science coming together. As individuals and researchers continue to explore the boundless potential of music therapy, those affected by Parkinson’s can find new hope, enhanced communication, and a path toward a better quality of life through the transformative gift of music. πŸŽ΅πŸ€—

Top 10 Safe Swallowing Strategies for Parkinson’s Disease

 

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Safe Swallowing Strategies for Parkinson’s Disease

In this article we’ll explore ten safe swallowing strategies for those living with Parkinson’s disease. Difficulty swallowing is a common but often underestimated challenge when navigating life with PD. Known medically as dysphagia, this condition can lead to a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia, a potentially serious complication. However, with the right strategies and habits, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with swallowing difficulties. Let’s explore the top ten safe swallowing strategies for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

1. Seek a Clinical Swallowing Assessment

Anyone experiencing swallowing difficulties, whether due to Parkinson’s disease or any other condition, should seek out a clinical swallowing assessment with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). SLPs are specially trained to manage swallowing impairments and can provide personalized recommendations and therapies to address your unique needs.

2. Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene

Implementing diligent oral care is one of the most important habits to lower your risk of aspiration pneumonia. Keeping your mouth clean and healthy helps prevent mouth bacteria from entering your lungs and causing infections. Did you know that the real culprit for aspiration pneumonia is not the food or liquid entering the lungs; it’s the mouth bacteria that hitch a ride with them? To combat this, make it a habit to brush your teeth and swish with alcohol-free mouthwash both before and after meals. A cleaner mouth translates to healthier lungs.

3. Optimal Seating

Ensure you are seated optimally for a meal, ideally fully upright in a chair. This position promotes better control over your food and minimizes the risk of choking.

4. Minimize Distractions

During mealtime, avoid distractions and refrain from talking when food or fluid is in your mouth. Focus on the task at hand to prevent accidental aspiration.

5. Slight Chin Tuck Position

When chewing food, tip your chin slightly down. Gravity will help to keep food and liquid at the front of your mouth and help to reduce premature spillage into your throat before you are ready to swallow. When swallowing fluids, try a slightly deeper chin tuck. This maneuver may help close the airway tighter during the swallow, reducing the risk of fluids going down the wrong way.

6. Small Bites and Careful Chewing

Take small bites and chew your food carefully. This not only aids in digestion but also makes it easier to manage your food in your mouth before swallowing.

7. Choose Moist and Cohesive Foods

Choose foods that are moist and cohesive. Fibrous or granular foods, such as celery, pineapple, dry seeds, nuts, granola, dry rice, and crumbly biscuits or crackers, can be challenging to control and swallow.

8. Be Cautious with Two-Textured Foods

Two-textured or “mixed-textured” foods, like chicken noodle soup or cereal with milk, require extra caution. These foods challenge your mouth to manage both solid and liquid components simultaneously, increasing the risk of choking or aspiration.

9. Sip Liquids Wisely

When drinking liquids, ensure your mouth is completely clear of food. This practice avoids the simultaneous presence of solids and liquids in your mouth, reducing the risk of aspiration.

10. Be Mindful of Parkinson “OFF” Periods

Start to track when your Parkinson medication “off” periods are as mouth control and swallow timeliness may be more impaired. At these times of the day choose easier to swallow foods such as smooth cream soups, puddings or soft moist casseroles.

While Parkinson’s disease may bring its share of challenges, adopting these ten safe swallowing strategies can significantly improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonia. Remember, seeking professional guidance through a clinical swallowing assessment is the first and most crucial step towards managing swallowing difficulties effectively. By implementing these strategies and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can enjoy safer and more comfortable meals while safeguarding your lung health. A cleaner mouth truly does equal healthier lungs.

Benefits of Improved Posture in Parkinson’s Disease

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Understanding Parkinson’s Posture

In this article we will review how improved posture can make far reaching quality of life changes for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. But first, it’s essential to understand what exactly IS “Parkinson’s posture”? The Parkinson’s stoop, also known as camptocormia is a forward-leaning posture that affects many individuals with Parkinson’s disease. This condition can be caused by a combination of muscle rigidity, postural instability, and changes in the brain that affect balance and coordination. The resulting posture not only affects physical health but can also lead to emotional and psychological distress.

How Improved Posture Affects Mood

Can improved posture in Parkinson’s also improve your mood? The resounding answer is YES! Research has shown that adopting an upright posture, even in the face of stress or discomfort, can have a positive impact on mood. Here’s how it works:

  1. Maintaining Self-Esteem: Sitting up straight and tall can help maintain a sense of self-esteem and confidence. It sends a powerful message to your brain that you are in control, boosting self-assurance.
  2. Reducing Stress: Improved posture can reduce cortisol levels, commonly referred to as ‘the stress hormone.’ Lower cortisol levels are associated with decreased stress and anxiety.
  3. Increasing Positivity: Adopting a confident posture can increase positive emotions and reduce negative ones. It can create a feedback loop, making you feel better and more optimistic.

Enhancing Vocal Projection Through Improved Posture

From a vocal perspective, maintaining an improved posture is essential for those with Parkinson’s disease. A good posture allows for better, deeper breathing, which is the fuel needed to power a stronger voice. Here’s how good posture enhances vocal projection:

  1. Improved Lung Capacity: Sitting or standing with an upright posture allows your lungs to fully expand. This increased lung capacity provides the necessary airflow to produce a more powerful and resonant voice.
  2. Enhanced Vocal Resonance: Good posture ensures that sound waves travel unobstructed from your vocal cords through your vocal tract. This results in better resonance and a clearer, more projected voice.
  3. Reduced Vocal Strain: Slouching or hunching can strain your vocal cords, leading to voice fatigue and a weaker voice. Maintaining proper posture reduces this strain, allowing for sustained and effective vocal projection.

How to Improve Posture in Parkinson’s

Improving posture in Parkinson’s disease involves a comprehensive approach that includes physical therapy, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. Here are some strategies to help fight the Parkinson’s stoop:

  1. Physical Therapy: Consult with a physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease. They can assess your posture and create a customized exercise program to address your specific needs. Physical therapy may involve stretching and strengthening exercises to improve core muscles and flexibility.
  2. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as tai chi or yoga, can improve balance and body awareness. These practices help individuals with Parkinson’s disease become more conscious of their posture and make subtle adjustments.
  3. Ergonomics: Pay attention to your environment. Ensure that your furniture, workspace, and daily activities are ergonomically designed to support good posture. Use chairs with lumbar support and keep frequently used items at an easily accessible height.
  4. Orthotics: Some individuals with Parkinson’s find relief from orthotic devices, such as back braces or posture correctors. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if these devices are suitable for you.
  5. Medication Adjustments: Work closely with your neurologist to manage your medication regimen. Sometimes, adjusting your medications can reduce muscle rigidity and make it easier to maintain an upright posture.
  6. Speech Therapy: Speech therapists can provide Parkinson specific voice exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in posture and breathing, which can indirectly improve overall posture.
  7. Stay Active: Regular physical activity, (ideally Parkinson specific exercise!) even in the form of simple activities like walking or swimming, can help maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Rock Steady Boxing is a Parkinson specific boxing program that’s offered in nearly a 1000 gyms worldwide.

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, maintaining good posture is not merely a matter of aesthetics; it can significantly impact both mood and vocal projection. By understanding Parkinson’s posture and its causes, individuals can take proactive steps to improve their well-being. So, sit up straight, stand tall, and discover the transformative power of improved posture in your life. Your mood and voice will thank you for it.

What’s Involved in a Swallowing Assessment for Parkinson’s Disease?

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The Importance of a Swallowing Assessment in Parkinson’s Disease

If you are experiencing any difficulty swallowing in the course of your Parkinson’s disease, it is important to seek out a clinical swallowing assessment with an experienced speech language pathologist (SLP) to best determine an individualized treatment plan. It is particularly imperative for those with PD to have this test as there is a higher risk of something called “silent aspiration”. This is when food, liquid or medication goes down the wrong way however the body doesn’t respond appropriately to expel it (i.e. cough).

What’s Involved in a Swallowing Assessment?

The Oral Motor Exam

The first part of a swallowing assessment is the clinical assessment. The speech pathologist will take a detailed medical history and ask you about the swallowing issues you are experiencing. Next is the oral motor exam. This is a test that looks at how the muscles in your face, mouth and throat are functioning. Your therapist may ask you to smile widely, press your tongue against a tongue depressor, wiggle it side to side, cough, wrinkle your brow, puff your cheeks with air, voice different sounds etc.

Food Texture Trials

The next part involves having you swallow different textures of food: liquid, puree, mixed texture, harder solids etc. The therapist will be observing different things: How are you able to chew, prepare, control and transfer various food textures? How long does it take? Is there any spillage from the lips? How well are you able to clear food from your mouth? Are you aware when food spills out?

Throat Palpation and Signs/Symptoms of Aspiration

Next they will likely feel your throat when you swallow. They are testing for how briskly your throat rises when you swallow. This indicates how well you are closing your airway when you swallow and how well you are opening your food tube to allow the food to pass through to the stomach.

Next they will observe what happens after the swallow. Is there coughing or throat clearing? Is there a change in voice quality? A wet or bubbly sounding voice can indicate that something has gone down the wrong way as food and liquid that passes over the vocal folds will change the sound of the voice.

The Instrumental Swallowing Assessment

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If your speech pathologist feels it is indicated, they may book you for a swallow x-ray. This could be referred to as an MBS (Modified Barium Swallow) or a VFSS (Video-Fluoroscopic Swallowing Study). This test is performed in an x-ray department. The therapist will mix different food textures with barium (a chalky white mineral that shows up on x-ray). They will ask you to swallow these items while you are being x-rayed.

This instrumental swallowing assessment allows the speech pathologist to see exactly what is happening when you swallow and will help to guide the treatment plan. During the test they may have you do special head positions or specific manoeuvres to see if there are any strategies that improve swallow efficiency and airway protection.

After all aspects of the swallowing assessment are complete, the speech pathologist will meet with you to review the results and discuss your individualized treatment plan.

Swallowing Treatment may Involve Any of the Following:

Speech Therapy for Swallowing Issues in Parkinson’s?

Yes! Parkinson specific speech and voice exercises can help with strengthening the respiratory, articulatory and phonatory systems. Remember that speech therapists manage both communication and swallowing issues because of the similarities in anatomy and physiology. When you regularly engage in Parkinson specific voice and speech exercises you are also targeting swallowing function!

How’s that for a two for one deal!?

How Committing to Regular Speech Exercises in Parkinson’s Disease Can Transform Your Life

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Unlocking the Power of Your Voice through Speech Exercises

In this blog post we’ll reveal how committing to regular voice and speech exercises for Parkinson’s disease can transform your life. Living with Parkinson’s disease can present a series of challenges that extend beyond the physical realm. The impact on one’s quality of life can be profound, affecting not only gross body movements but also communication and swallowing function.

While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are strategies and habits that can significantly improve the daily lives of those affected. One such powerful habit is committing to doing regular speech exercises, which can act as a keystone habit that unlocks a ripple effect of positive change, transforming the rest of your life.

Understanding Keystone Habits πŸ”‘

Keystone habits are those behaviors or routines that have a disproportionate impact on our lives. They serve as catalysts, initiating a chain reaction that leads to the development of other positive habits and choices. In the context of Parkinson’s disease, committing to regular voice and speech exercises can be one such keystone habit.

The Ripple Effect of Keystone Habits

Now, let’s delve into how committing to regular Parkinson specific speech exercises can set off a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of individuals with Parkinson’s disease:

1. Increased Motivation:

Successfully incorporating Parkinson’s voice and speech exercises into your daily routine can boost your confidence in your ability to make positive changes. This newfound motivation can spill over into other aspects of your life, inspiring you to take on new challenges and make healthier choices.

2. Increased Confidence:

As speech becomes more clear and powerful, confidence naturally follows. Confidence can open doors to new opportunities, such as participating in support groups, taking on leadership roles, or simply engaging in activities that were once avoided due to communication challenges.

3. Better Self-Care:

Once you experience the benefits of regular exercise, you may be more inclined to prioritize self-care. This could involve improving your diet, getting regular physical activity, and managing stress more effectively.

4. Enhanced Emotional Resilience:

Improved communication and social connections can provide emotional support, helping you better navigate the emotional ups and downs of Parkinson’s disease. This resilience can lead to a more positive outlook on life.

5. A Holistic Approach to Parkinson’s Management:

Keystone habits often lead to the adoption of other healthy habits. By committing to voice exercise, you might find yourself exploring complementary therapies, seeking out new sources of information and support, and actively engaging in your healthcare management.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

As the old saying goes: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure. It’s much easier to start doing voice and speech exercises early on in the disease process to significantly slow the decline of any communication or swallowing issues. Waiting until you have significant impairment means you will be fighting an uphill battle to regain what you have lost. All it takes is just a bit of commitment each day to devote to your voice fitness routine. Even 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference if done consistently.

Lack of Motivation

The struggle to stay motivated to do any kind of exercise is very real for people with Parkinson’s. Dopamine is one of our “get up and go” neurotransmitters, so those with PD are already behind the eight-ball in being able to self motivate and stay diligent with voice exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits.

PRO TIP: We suggest start small. Only 5 or 10 minutes a day. You can even do your voice exercises in the shower! Talk about dual tasking.

Pressed for time? Try our 5 Minute Parkinson’s Voice Exercise Workout HERE.

In the journey of living with Parkinson’s disease, committing to daily voice and speech exercises can be a transformative keystone habit that sets off a chain reaction of positive change. By improving communication, confidence, and overall well-being, this habit can lead to better self-care, emotional resilience, and a holistic approach to managing the disease.

Mixed Texture Foods and Parkinson’s Disease: Top 3 Tips for Safer Swallowing

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What are Mixed Texture Foods?

One particular hurdle that individuals with Parkinson’s disease often face is the difficulty of handling two-textured or mixed texture foods. These are foods that combine both a liquid and a solid component, like chicken noodle soup, cereal with milk, fruit cocktail in syrup, or even a succulent piece of watermelon.

So let’s explore why these mixed texture foods can be tricky for those with Parkinson’s disease and share some practical tips to make mealtime safer and more enjoyable.

The Challenge of Mixed Texture Foods

Why are mixed texture foods so challenging for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease? The key issue lies in the simultaneous management of two different textures in the mouth: chewing the solid bits and controlling the liquid portion.

For people with PD, initiating and controlling movements can be impaired, and this applies to the mouth and throat muscles as well. When both solids and liquids are introduced into the mouth at the same time, it’s akin to trying to pat your head and rub your belly simultaneously – it’s more challenging.

So, does this mean you have to bid farewell to your favorite mixed texture foods? Absolutely not! There are some simple strategies that can help you continue enjoying these delicious dishes without the added stress.

Tip #1: Divide and Conquer

To make mixed texture foods easier to manage, try this straightforward approach: alternate spoonfuls of the dish. Here’s how:

  1. Only the Liquid: Start by spooning just the liquid portion into your mouth, like the broth in chicken noodle soup.
  2. Only the Solids: After swallowing the liquid portion, take a spoonful of just the solid bits, making sure to drain off any excess liquid. This method eliminates the challenge of dealing with two different textures in your mouth at once.

By alternating between the two components, you can relish the full flavor of your favorite mixed texture foods while reducing the risk of choking or aspiration.

Tip #2: Use a Slight Chin Tuck

For added protection during meals, consider tilting your chin slightly downward when there’s food or liquid in your mouth. This technique takes advantage of gravity to keep the food bolus in the front part of your mouth, reducing the chances of premature spillage into your throat before you’re ready to swallow.

It’s important to note that this is not the same as a full “chin tuck posture” used by some individuals with swallowing issues to enhance airway closure during swallowing. The slight chin tuck is a milder adjustment that can help better control two-textured foods.

Tip #3: Pill-Taking Made Easier

Lastly, don’t forget that taking pills with water is also considered a mixed texture challenge. Many people, not just those with Parkinson’s, struggle with swallowing pills because of this reason.

An easy solution is to coat pills in either applesauce or yogurt before swallowing. This makes the pill easier to swallow, and you can always take a small sip of water afterward to ensure it goes down smoothly.

PRO TIP: Be sure never to crush or cut medications unless given the ok by your physician or pharmacist as some medications are extended release and rely on the slow gradual release of the medication for maximum effect.

Seek Out Professional Help

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with speech language pathologist (SLP) for personalized advice on managing swallowing difficulties associated with Parkinson’s. Seek out a clinical swallowing assessment with an SLP near you.

So, there you have it – practical tips to help you navigate the challenge of mixed texture foods for those with Parkinson’s disease. By alternating textures and using a slight chin tuck when needed, you can enjoy your favorite dishes safely. And when it comes to pills, a little applesauce or yogurt can make a big difference. Bon appΓ©tit!

VIDEO RESOURCE: You can watch our 8 minute Safer Swallow Video on managing mixed textures HERE.