Program to provide speech therapy for individuals with Parkinson's

· 3 min read

Program to provide speech therapy for individuals with Parkinson's

Beginning this fall, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Barkley Speech Language and Hearing Clinic will offer specialized speech therapy to individuals with Parkinson's disease.

The program, which will help those with the disease preserve their speech and voice, is supported through a 2019 Speak Out and Loud Crowd Grant from the Parkinson Voice Project.

“The program is an opportunity for our clinic to help serve the needs of individuals with Parkinson’s,” said Kristy Weissling, associate professor of practice and coordinator of Barkley’s speech and language clinic. “It will also be an excellent learning opportunity for our speech-language pathology students.”

After an initial evaluation at the Barkley Clinic, participants in the program will attend three 40-minute individual sessions per week for four weeks. Following the 12 individual sessions, patients will be added to a group maintenance program they will attend once a week throughout the remainder of their lives.

The first year of the program will be funded through the grant from the Parkinson Voice Project, allowing participants to attend therapy free of charge. In addition, the grant provided funding for three speech-language pathologists to be trained, as well as all materials needed for the program.

The Barkley Clinic was one of 149 recipients of the grant in 2019.

“Up to 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and aspiration pneumonia caused by swallowing issues accounts for 70 percent of the mortality rate in this patient population," said Samantha Elandary, Parkinson Voice Project’s founder and chief executive officer. "Awarding these grants has substantially increased access to quality speech treatment to those living with Parkinson’s."

The grant program honors Daniel R. Boone, a world-renowned speech-language pathologist and voice expert who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson’s could improve their communication if they spoke with “intent.” The speech therapy program is based on Boone’s teachings and combines individual therapy with ongoing group therapy to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act.

The Parkinson Voice Project is the only non-profit organization in the world solely dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speech and swallowing. The organization runs a speech therapy clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and host the world’s largest Parkinson’s Chorus, made up of nearly 100 individuals with Parkinson’s whose voices have been restored through their program.

The Parkinson Voice Project aims to replicate the Speak Out and Loud Crowd program around the globe. More than 1,600 speech-language pathologists from have been trained to date.

Learn more about the program.