Parkinson's: Do incentive spirometers help improve breathing?

Posted by mariew @mariew, Jun 14 12:42pm

I want to help my mother to have improved breath for talking, etc.
Do you know if inspirometers or expirometer device exercise can help?

Hello @mariew and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm glad to see that you are advocating and seeking help for your mom. Parkinson's is a brain disorder and it affects so many areas of our body including breathing and swallowing. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's for several years myself and I know that it has affected so many of my bodily systems, including breathing, swallowing and speech.

You do not mention how long your mom has had Parkinson's nor her age. I'm wondering what her breathing is like? Does she have trouble swallowing as well? Also, I'm wondering if she has been evaluated by an otolaryngologist (an ENT doctor who specializes in vocal cord disorders) and if she has been evaluated by a pulmonologist? Does she have speech problems as well?

I know these seem like a lot of questions, however, they can help others who have Parkinson's relate and perhaps join this discussion and offer suggestions.

Will you post a bit more as you feel comfortable doing so?

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@hopeful33250

Hello @mariew and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'm glad to see that you are advocating and seeking help for your mom. Parkinson's is a brain disorder and it affects so many areas of our body including breathing and swallowing. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's for several years myself and I know that it has affected so many of my bodily systems, including breathing, swallowing and speech.

You do not mention how long your mom has had Parkinson's nor her age. I'm wondering what her breathing is like? Does she have trouble swallowing as well? Also, I'm wondering if she has been evaluated by an otolaryngologist (an ENT doctor who specializes in vocal cord disorders) and if she has been evaluated by a pulmonologist? Does she have speech problems as well?

I know these seem like a lot of questions, however, they can help others who have Parkinson's relate and perhaps join this discussion and offer suggestions.

Will you post a bit more as you feel comfortable doing so?

Jump to this post

Sure!
Mom is 87 years old. She's had Parkinsons for a long time. She developed a chin quiver about 30 years ago, but no other symptoms. Now she cannot function mentally and physically without the right dose of levadopa/carbadopa. I am a physical therapist and I have been having her do balance and strength training with me for many years and that is going well. Recently the volume of her voice has gotten soft. She just started speech therapy for speaking louder and clearer. I noticed that she doesn't take a deep breath before speaking. I think she'd be really motivated to "make the ball or bar go higher" if she could have a visual cue for how to increase her breath volume. I'm just not sure if working on inspiration or exhalation has the most gains. (She doesn't have any swallowing issues at present)

REPLY
@mariew

Sure!
Mom is 87 years old. She's had Parkinsons for a long time. She developed a chin quiver about 30 years ago, but no other symptoms. Now she cannot function mentally and physically without the right dose of levadopa/carbadopa. I am a physical therapist and I have been having her do balance and strength training with me for many years and that is going well. Recently the volume of her voice has gotten soft. She just started speech therapy for speaking louder and clearer. I noticed that she doesn't take a deep breath before speaking. I think she'd be really motivated to "make the ball or bar go higher" if she could have a visual cue for how to increase her breath volume. I'm just not sure if working on inspiration or exhalation has the most gains. (She doesn't have any swallowing issues at present)

Jump to this post

Hello @mariew,

I appreciate your providing a bit more information about your mom's current health condition. She is so fortunate that she has a daughter who is a physical therapist!! I appreciate all of the time you are giving to her.

As you know, a soft voice is very typical of Parkinson's. I am glad to hear that she is receiving speech therapy. That should be helpful. It is hard to say if any of the inhalation/expiration devices would be helpful to her or not. Have you discussed the use of these with her speech therapist?

I have used one expiration device that I purchased online. However, it is not the type that has the balls that go up as you inhale/exhale. It is a bit different as I have a paralyzed vocal cord (specialists do not believe that it is related to PD but they consider it idiopathic in origin).

Since the reasons for using these devices is different and is dependent on the type of breathing problem you really need the opinion of an expert.

Has she been seen by an otolaryngologist or a pulmonologist to determine where the breathing difficulty is located?

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No, we have not seen a specialist regarding her soft speech, other than the speech therapist. I like the idea of using a visual aid device, like the one with colored balls.

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