Swallowing in Parkinson’s


Many of us don’t even think about swallowing, but it’s an important reflex that helps us clear saliva from the mouth.

While we usually swallow more than 500 times a day, that is not always the case for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects one in 500 people, and around 120,000 people in the UK. Many of these people are over 50 years old. Those affected by Parkinson’s suffer from a build-up of saliva, as the subconscious swallowing motion does not happen as designed. This can have a real impact on health and well-being. As well as causing drooling, it can increase the risk of choking or pneumonia.

SiDE is working with clinician Richard Walker and speech language therapist Nick Miller to investigate ways to sense or prompt swallowing using digital technologies.

Following initial consultation and design work, researchers designed a wrist-worn device that can prompt swallowing using an intermittent vibration. They are now exploring how a throat-worn microphone can record and recognise swallowing, and link to accelerometers that can remind the user when it is time to swallow.

Contact Us

Patrick Olivier (patrick.olivier@ncl.ac.uk)
Roisin McNaney (r.mcnaney@ncl.ac.uk)

Cueing Swallowing in Parkinson’s Disease (http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/patrick.olivier/CHC-publication/cueing-final-18-2-2010.pdf)