Georgia Southern Speech Center Wins Parkinson Voice Project Grant

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by Mary Chapman |

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A grant from the Parkinson Voice Project will be used to enhance the training and resources available to speech language pathologists and graduate students with the RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders at Georgia Southern University.

Such awards, whose sum was not disclosed, are given annually by Parkinson Voice Project (PVP) through its SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd Grant Program, with a goal of making quality speech therapy accessible to people with Parkinson’s disease worldwide.

It’s already helping to make a difference at the university, officials said.

“The grant from the Parkinson’s Voice Project has been significant in improving the student clinicians’ knowledge of Parkinson’s disease,” said Tory Candea, RiteCare Center clinic coordinator, in a press release.

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“Further, the grant has allowed the RiteCare Center to become an invaluable resource for members of the community impacted by Parkinson’s disease,” Candea added.

Center pathologists and students working toward degrees in the center’s graduate program will get free SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd and teletherapy training. Students are supervised by licensed and certified speech-language pathologists.

In addition, the center will get speech therapy supplies and funding to run its own LOUD Crowd groups.

Some 90% of those living with Parkinson’s, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, are at risk of a weakening voice, and serious speech and swallowing difficulties. Speech-language pathologists are trained to help patients improve their speaking voice so they can be more easily understood. Speech therapy also helps to maintain muscles of the face, mouth and throat that are important for swallowing as well as speaking.

More than 3,500 such pathologists have been trained through the SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd program, PVP reports.

Its speech therapy program marries individual speech therapy with daily speech practice and ongoing group sessions. Individual sessions are a component of SPEAK OUT!, which uses speech, voice, and cognitive exercises to address some of the motor issues related to Parkinson’s. Group sessions are part of the LOUD Crowd, a voice maintenance program consisting of speech therapy groups and singing to promote and retain vocal strength.

Patients in the program, working with a speech language pathologist, go through series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises outlined in a specialized workbook. By focusing on “speaking with intent,” SPEAK OUT! teaches people to move the act of speaking from an automatic function to one that is conscious and deliberate.

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