According to surgeons, injecting collagen into the vocal cords improves voice problems in Parkinson's disease. One of the important symptoms of Parkinson's disease is the deterioration in voice quality experienced by some patients. This problem is known as hypophonia, and is caused by muscle rigidity and other abnormalities in the area of the voice box or larynx.
People with hypophonia sound very 'breathy' and it may be hard to understand what they are saying. You can imagine this has a very negative impact on the patient's quality of life, for they cannot communicate as they would like to.
Doctors at the University of Cleavland have tried a new technique to improve voice quality in a group of 10 Parkinson's patients. They injected collagen - one of the proteins that makes up bone and skin - into the vocal cords in the larynx. For 8 of the 10 patients, the procedure led to an improvement in voice quality that lasted for at least two months. In the other cases, the disease was probably too advanced for the injection to make a difference. The surgeons think the new procedure, which does not require a general anaesthetic, is very promising for many Parkinson's patients with voice problems.