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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 540158, 9 pages
Research Article

Perceived Changes in Communication as an Effect of STN Surgery in Parkinson's Disease: A Qualitative Interview Study

Division of Speech and Language Pathology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

Received 11 March 2011; Revised 31 May 2011; Accepted 3 July 2011

Academic Editor: Tara Whitehill

Copyright © 2011 Emilia Ahlberg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The aim of the present study was to explore four individuals' perspective of the way their speech and communication changed as a result of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation treatment for Parkinson's disease. Interviews of two men and two women were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Three themes emerged as a result of the analysis. The first theme included sub-themes describing both increased and unexpected communication difficulties such as a more vulnerable speech function, re-emerging stuttering and cognitive difficulties affecting communication. The second theme comprised strategies to improve communication, using different speech techniques and communicative support, as well as trying to achieve changes in medical and stimulation parameters. The third theme included descriptions of mixed feelings surrounding the surgery. Participants described the surgery as an unavoidable dramatic change, associated both with improved quality of life but also uncertainty and lack of information, particularly regarding speech and communication changes. Despite negative effects on speech, the individuals were generally very pleased with the surgical outcome. More information before surgery regarding possible side effects on speech, meeting with a previously treated patient and possibly voice and speech therapy before or after surgery are suggested to facilitate the adjustment to the new speech conditions.