Voice Problems May Affect Social Life in Parkinson's

Patients perceived as 'negative' due to disease-related changes in their speech, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- People with Parkinson's disease may experience social difficulties due to the way they talk, a Canadian study reports.

The new research indicates that Parkinson's patients have reduced opportunities for social interaction, which limits their ability to fully participate in society and reduces their quality of life, according to Marc Pell, of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University in Montreal.

The study included participants with and without Parkinson's whose voices were recorded as they described visual scenes. The recordings were played to listeners who didn't know the health status of the speakers. The listeners perceived the speakers with Parkinson's as less interested, less involved, less happy and less friendly than those without the disease.

The negative personality impressions were linked to Parkinson's disease-related changes in the speaking voice, not a person's ability to describe a scene, according to the researchers.

The study authors noted that the ability to communicate is vital to the mental and emotional health of all people. These findings highlight an area of concern that needs to be addressed by health professionals treating people with Parkinson's disease.

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SOURCE: McGill University, news release, Feb. 2, 2010
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