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How Facial Masking in Parkinson’s Influences Perception

[The Parkinson's Podcast™]

How Facial Masking in Parkinson’s Influences Perception


Learn about Facial Masking & How It Influences Perception

“The face is the primary way we communicate with other people, We tend to believe the actions of a person more than their words. So, a person with Parkinson’s disease may be saying that they are really enjoying life, but may not be believed.”

-Linda Tickle-Degnen, Professor and Chair of Physical Therapy at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts

Facial masking is a common symptom in people with Parkinson’s and for some it can cause a great deal of frustration and anxiety. And not just the person with Parkinson’s but their family members, friends and everyone else with whom they come in contact. That’s because when we’re in conversations with others, we take cues from their facial expressions. And when there aren’t any, we often make up stories of what we think it means. That makes communicating and relating a challenge.

Facial Masking Parkinson's

In this episode, our host Kelsey Phinney, whose father has Parkinson’s and has struggled with facial masking for some time, speaks with Professor Linda Tickle-Degnen from Tufts University about:

  • What facial masking is
  • The cultural and social implications of facial masking 
  • Strategies people with Parkinson’s can use to shrink the communication divide 
  • How to explain facial masking to others so they understand what’s happening
  • Tools to help reduce facial masking
  • Tips for care partners and practitioners

Concepts Mentioned in this Podcast & Further Reading

Facial Masking
Does facial amimia impact the recognition of facial emotions? An EMG study in Parkinson’s disease?
Specific impairments in the recognition of emotional facial expressions in Parkinson’s disease
The influence of facial masking and sex on older adults’ impressions of individuals with Parkinson’s disease
Deficits in the mimicry of facial expressions in Parkinson’s disease
Culture, gender, and healthcare stigma: practitioners’ response to facial masking experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease

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