, Volume 192, Issue 4, pp 601–608

Sequential Voluntary Cough and Aspiration or Aspiration Risk in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Karen Wheeler Hegland
  • Michael S. Okun
  • Michelle S. Troche

DOI: 10.1007/s00408-014-9584-7

Cite this article as:
Hegland, K.W., Okun, M.S. & Troche, M.S. Lung (2014) 192: 601. doi:10.1007/s00408-014-9584-7



Disordered swallowing, or dysphagia, is almost always present to some degree in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), either causing aspiration or greatly increasing the risk for aspiration during swallowing. This likely contributes to aspiration pneumonia, a leading cause of death in this patient population. Effective airway protection is dependent upon multiple behaviors, including cough and swallowing. Single voluntary cough function is disordered in people with PD and dysphagia. However, the appropriate response to aspirate material is more than one cough, or sequential cough. The goal of this study was to examine voluntary sequential coughing in people with PD, with and without dysphagia.


Forty adults diagnosed with idiopathic PD produced two trials of sequential voluntary cough. The cough airflows were obtained using pneumotachograph and facemask and subsequently digitized and recorded. All participants received a modified barium swallow study as part of their clinical care, and the worst penetration–aspiration score observed was used to determine whether the patient had dysphagia.


There were significant differences in the compression phase duration, peak expiratory flow rates, and amount of air expired of the sequential cough produced by participants with and without dysphagia.


The presence of dysphagia in people with PD is associated with disordered cough function. Sequential cough, which is important in removing aspirate material from large- and smaller-diameter airways, is also impaired in people with PD and dysphagia compared with those without dysphagia. There may be common neuroanatomical substrates for cough and swallowing impairment in PD leading to the co-occurrence of these dysfunctions.


Parkinson’s disease Airway protection Voluntary cough Swallowing Aspiration 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Wheeler Hegland
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael S. Okun
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michelle S. Troche
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Speech, Language and Hearing SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Movement Disorders and NeurorestorationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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