Parkinson disease (PD) is a complex, progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that leads to a wide range of deficits including fine and gross sensorimotor impairment, autonomic dysfunction, mood disorders, and cognitive decline. Traditionally, the focus for diagnosis and treatment has been on sensorimotor impairment related to dopamine depletion. It is now widely recognized, however, that PD-related pathology affects multiple central nervous system neurotransmitters and pathways. Communication and swallowing functions can be impaired even in the early stages, significantly affecting health and quality of life. The purpose of this article is to review the literature on early intervention for communication and swallowing impairment in PD. Overarching themes were that (1) studies and interpretation of data from studies in early PD are limited; (2) best therapy practices have not been established, in part due to the heterogeneous nature of PD; and (3) as communication and swallowing problems are pervasive in PD, further treatment research is essential.
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.