Parkinson´s disease is a neurodegenerative and chronic illness with motor and non-motor symptoms. Symptoms may include bradykinesia (slowness of movement), muscle rigidity, resting tremor, postural instability, cognitive impairment, mood disorders, problems sleeping, constipation or speech and swallowing problems as dysphagia.
Due to the aging, swallowing (passage of food from the mouth to the stomach) is complicated, increasing the risk of developing feeding problems. Parkinson’s disease increases these complications, owing to motor symptoms induce dysphagia, a condition characterized by difficult to swallow food, both solid and liquid. It is important to underline that feeding is a voluntary and conscious act where the necessary nutrients are provided to face our day, but also it is a source of pleasure.
This symptom can cause very serious consequences, such as malnutrition and dehydration, respiratory problems and even aspiration pneumonia, that causes a large number of hospitalizations and, even, patient´s death. It is very important to identify it and give a treatment in order not to compromise the person´s quality of life. Not closing the own lips properly, losing of muscle mass or coughing when person is eating are some of the manifestations of dysphagia.
Depending on the degree of dysphagia; it will be treated in one way or another, but there are simple tips to avoid choking as:
- To adjust the texture of the food
- To make sure that person is eating in a correct position
- To use special cutlery
- To decrease the amount of food into the mouth.
From Parkinson Madrid Association, speech therapy´s team has designed an innovative treatment for dysphagia; adapting technology used in other areas. This therapy is called Deglupark. It consists in a re-education of swallowing in order to decrease the number of aspiration pneumonia. It runs through visual biofeedback, a technique that is used to control physiological functions of the human being, combined with massages and bandages. This method could be used to other neurodegenerative diseases. Due to this therapy, Deglupark, Parkinson Madrid Association has won a national award, “Premio Senda Nutrición”.
ICT4Life gives special attention to dysphagia and it is developing a training aimed to patients and caregivers in order to provide some tips to avoid it.
Be aware of the importance of the dysphagia and design new therapies is fundamental to improve the patient´s quality of life, decreasing the number of aspiration pneumonia and hospitalization.
Marta Burgos Gonzalez,
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