Motor Performance During Sensorimotor Training for Airway Protection in Parkinson’s Disease


Introduction: Cough dysfunction is highly prevalent in Parkinson’sdisease(PD) and associated with pneumonia, a leading cause of death. Although research suggests that cough can be volitionally upregulated, patterns of improvements that occur during cough skill training and potential correlates remain unexamined. Therefore, we sought to characterize changes to peak flow during cough skill training, examine whether early variability predicted motor performance trajectories during treatment, and explore the relationship between peak flow during cough skill training and motor learning on a similar but untrained task (i.e., reflex cough testing). Method: This secondary analysis of treatment data from a randomized controlled trial included 28 individuals with PD who participated in five sessions of sensorimotor training for airway protection (smTAP). During this novel cough skill training, participants completed 25 repetitions of coughs targeting peak flow 25% above their baseline. Reflex and voluntary cough testing was performed pre- and posttreatment. Bayesian multilevel growth curve models provided group and individual-level estimates of peak flow during training. Results: The magnitude and consistency of peak flow increased during cough skill training. Variability in peak flow during the first treatment session was associated with greater improvements to peak flow in later sessions. There was no relationship between changes to peak flow during cough skill training and motor learning. Conclusions: Individuals with PD improved the strength and variability of cough peak flow during cough skill training. These findings provide a clinically relevant characterization of motor performance during cough skill training and lend insight into potential correlates to guide future treatment paradigms.

American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.