Parkinson Voice Project Going Global with Speech Therapy Grant Program

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by Mary Chapman |

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This year, Parkinson Voice Project (PVP) is broadening its SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd Grant Program to include support for international speech therapy clinics.

The expanded grant program is intended to help Parkinson’s disease patients around the world gain access to quality speech treatment to maintain their speaking abilities and minimize the threat of swallowing problems.

In addition to facilities in the U.S., grant recipients this year will include five clinics based outside the country. Applications are now being accepted and are due March 1. Recipients will be announced in April during Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Go here for full eligibility requirements, and visit this site to apply.

Nonprofit organizations, universities/graduate students, and hospitals who would like to bring PVP’s speech therapy program to their communities are encouraged to apply. Applicants must have the physical space and clinical staff necessary to provide both individual and group speech therapy. Last year’s winners may reapply for continued support of their programs.

For international applicants, awards are open to any clinic that can use English or Spanish-based therapy materials.

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To achieve its mission of making speech treatment widely accessible, PVP recognized a need to support speech language pathologists. These professionals, according to the organization, get low insurance reimbursement for services, and also often have trouble securing funding from employers for specialized training and supplies. The grants are designed to provide pathologists with the knowledge and tools needed to help the Parkinson’s community.

The grant program, which honors the late Parkinson’s speech expert Daniel R. Boone, PhD, was launched last year with 92 grants awarded to speech therapy clinics nationwide. Of them, 34 were university-based clinics.

More than 900 speech language pathologists and graduate students received training in SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd therapy protocols, plus speech therapy supplies, funding support for their organizations, and a trip to PVP’s clinic in Dallas-Fort Worth for hands-on training.

“Our grant program was a huge success in 2018,” said PVP CEO Samantha Elandary, in a press release. “Our goal is to make quality speech treatment available to those living with Parkinson’s around the globe.”

According to Elandary, Parkinson’s affects more than 1 million U.S. residents, and up to 10 million people worldwide. Some 89 percent of patients are likely to develop speech disorders that can lead to swallowing difficulties.

Combining speech, voice, and cognitive exercises, SPEAK OUT! addresses the motor speech issues related to Parkinson’s. LOUD Crowd is a voice maintenance program consisting of speech therapy groups and a singing segment to foster voice strength retention.

Using the two-part trademarked speech therapy program, the patient and a speech language pathologist tackle a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises outlined in a specialized workbook. Stressing “speaking with intent,” the program switches speech from an automatic function to a deliberate act. Because speech muscles are also used for swallowing, the benefits of the therapy are twofold.

Grant funding will come from the more than $2 million PVP raised over the past holiday season.

Through intensive speech therapy, follow-up support, research, education and community awareness, the nonprofit aims to preserve the voices of those with Parkinson’s and related disorders. To date, it has trained more than 1,300 speech language pathologists nationwide. Internationally, it has trained therapists in eight countries.

Among other offerings, the organization also hosts an educational lecture series. Earlier this month, Susan Imke, a certified gerontological nurse practitioner who focuses on families living with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, discussed “Optimal Nutrition for Living Well with Parkinson’s.”

The next presentation, “Packing Some ‘Punch’ Into Your Parkinson’s Exercise Routine,” will be Feb. 9.