UCA Speech-Language-Hearing Center receives grant to help patients with Parkinson’s

The University of Central Arkansas’ Speech-Language-Hearing Center has received a grant from the Parkinson’s Voice Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the voices of people living with Parkinson’s disease. 

The SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd grant includes speech therapy workbooks and certification training for speech-language pathologists and graduate students. UCA is one of 439 grant recipients, which include other universities, hospitals, private practices and outpatient clinics. 

Towino Paramby

Towino Paramby

“I am excited for our graduate students because they can increase their learning through this program,” said Towino Paramby, a speech-language pathologist and associate professor in the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. “I am also excited about what this means for patients living with Parkinson’s disease.” 

SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd is a clinically-proven speech therapy approach for individuals with Parkinson’s. One challenge patients with Parkinson’s disease face is a quieter voice, which leads to reduced speech clarity. Through the program, speech therapists train patients to speak with more intention so that their voices are louder and clearer. Patients regain and maintain their speaking abilities with education, individual speech therapy, daily home practice, group sessions and regular re-assessments. 

Paramby says the process is relatively simple, but because Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder, patients need consistent reminders to help solidify the new habit. According to the Parkinson Voice Project, a typical SPEAK OUT!therapy session is about 40 minutes long, and patients usually reach their goals in 8-12 sessions.

Paramby and Richelle Weese, a clinical instructor of speech pathology in the UCA Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, have both completed the SPEAK OUT!® certification training. Because the grant covers the cost of training for graduate students, Paramby requires speech-language students to complete the training.

“Up to 90% of people with Parkinson’s are at risk of losing their ability to speak,” said Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of Parkinson’s Voice Project. In addition, swallowing complications account for 70% of the mortality rate in this patient population. Our vision at Parkinson Voice Project is to make quality speech therapy accessible to people with Parkinson’s worldwide.” 

This grant program honors the late Daniel R. Boone, a world-renowned speech-language pathologist who recognized in the 1950s that individuals with Parkinson’s could improve their communication by “speaking with intent.” Parkinson’s Voice Project’s highly effective speech therapy program is based on Boone’s teachings and combines education for the patient and family and individual and group speech therapy.