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Navigating Swallowing Difficulties in Parkinson's with Brittany Peck, SLP


difficult to swallow

Understanding the complexities of swallowing disorders in Parkinson's disease can feel like a daunting task. But with experts like Brittany Peck from BPEC Speech and Swallowing to guide us, it becomes a journey of learning, understanding, and ultimately, empowerment.


Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain. One of the significant consequences of this condition is a reduction in dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for coordinating smooth and balanced muscle movement. When Parkinson's disease impacts the production of dopamine, the oral musculature can slow down, leading to difficulties in swallowing and even excessive drooling.


But, as we learn from Brittany, there's a beacon of hope in the form of retraining and awareness. By becoming more intentional about our actions and movements, we can counteract the impact of Parkinson's on our swallowing. This approach involves retraining people with Parkinson's to be more conscious and deliberate in their actions, including swallowing.

Hydration and physical therapy also play an essential role in managing Parkinson's symptoms. Weakness and discoordination can cause difficulties with drinking and swallowing. By staying hydrated and participating in regular physical therapy, individuals with Parkinson's can manage their symptoms more effectively.


An integral part of managing swallowing disorders in Parkinson's is understanding the clinical swallow evaluation process. This process includes a comprehensive assessment of a person's swallowing capabilities and the potential treatments that can be prescribed based on individual needs. For instance, the evaluation may reveal that a person benefits from modifying the textures and consistencies of their foods, or from specific exercises to strengthen the tongue or base of the tongue.


In today's world, physical distance should not limit access to essential services such as speech-language pathology. Brittany Peck exemplifies this belief with her home-based practice in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Leveraging technology, she delivers speech-language pathology services to those in rural and remote areas who may otherwise struggle to access these services.


Lastly, it's crucial to be aware of the key indicators that could signal swallowing difficulties. These include excessive saliva, coughing or clearing your throat while eating, a wet or gurgly voice quality after meals, unexplained weight loss, and difficulty swallowing medication. By recognizing these signs early, individuals with Parkinson's can seek professional help sooner and start managing their symptoms more effectively.


In conclusion, while swallowing disorders can be a complex aspect of Parkinson's disease, they are manageable with the right guidance and support. With experts like Brittany Peck leading the way, we can all navigate the challenges of Parkinson's with confidence and optimism.


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