Georgia Southern clinic to remove barriers to Parkinson’s speech therapy in Georgia
Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest-growing neurological disorder and the second-most prevalent brain disease in the United States. Ninety percent of people with Parkinson’s are at risk of losing their ability to speak and swallowing complications are the main cause of death in this population.
The RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders at Georgia Southern University is teaming up with a Texas nonprofit clinic to help all Georgians with Parkinson’s Disease have access to high-quality speech treatment. Parkinson Voice Project, a clinic committed to helping people with Parkinson’s regain and retain their speech and swallowing, is awarding the RiteCare Center a grant worth more than $280,000 in training, services, supplies and equipment over five years.
Georgia Southern is one of 16 universities across the country selected this year to receive this grant as part of Parkinson Voice Project’s “Campaign to Reach America.” “We selected the RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders because of their compassion and their commitment to serving their Parkinson’s community,” says Elandary. “These new SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Centers will eliminate the barriers currently preventing thousands of people with Parkinson’s from receiving speech treatment,” she says. Speech and swallowing issues in Parkinson’s are life-altering and life-threatening. This is an urgent problem, and patients and families are desperate for help, according to Elandary.
The grant is part of the SPEAK OUT!® Therapy & Research Center. SPEAK OUT! is a highly effective, research-based speech therapy protocol that can also minimize the risk of life-threatening swallowing complications, according to Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of Parkinson Voice Project.
“We believe fully in the remarkable outcomes of SPEAK OUT! Therapy due to research and our clinical experience. We have had countless patients whose lives have been positively impacted due to this program,” says Tori Caneda, clinic coordinator at the RiteCare Center, who serves as the clinical lead for the Georgia SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Center.
Through this collaboration, the Georgia Southern clinic will specialize in online treatment delivery and commit to providing SPEAK OUT! Therapy at no cost to any person in Georgia diagnosed with Parkinson’s or a related movement disorder. This will enable patients who are homebound, don’t drive, or who live in rural areas to now receive the speech therapy they need while eliminating insurance and financial barriers. The University will also conduct efficacy research on SPEAK OUT! Therapy.
Parkinson Voice Project is awarding more than $4.5 million in these collaborations.
Sparked by the Pandemic
Elandary credits the pandemic for sparking the concept of the SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Centers. “When we transitioned our speech therapy clinic to an online telepractice during the shutdown, we found our patients did better with that mode of therapy. Many barriers that previously prevented patients from receiving speech treatment were immediately eliminated. Patients who were homebound, lived in rural areas, or had transportation challenges could now receive treatment,” she says.
“Online therapy is easier and more convenient for this patient population that also struggles with mobility and physical challenges.” Elandary’s team observed that online therapy also made it easier for family members and friends from across the world to participate in therapy sessions by simply hopping onto a ZOOM call.
In March 2020, Elandary’s clinical team also began hosting “SPEAK OUT! Home Practice Sessions” on their website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel five days a week. More than 3,000 patients participate in these online sessions each day. With this added practice support, patients are improving and reaching their speech therapy goals faster than they did before the pandemic, she notes.
About the $20 Million Campaign to Reach America
In December 2021, Parkinson Voice Project officially launched its $20 million “Campaign to Reach America” to financially secure its headquarters in Richardson, Texas and help support 50 Therapy & Research Centers – one in every state across America. Parkinson Voice Project has raised over $11 million towards the campaign and plans to continue the campaign until all 50 states are sponsored. For more information on the Campaign to Reach America, please visit www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org/Campaign-To-Reach-America.
About SPEAK OUT!
Parkinson Voice Project’s comprehensive SPEAK OUT! Therapy Program combines interlocking components, including education for both the patient and family, individual speech therapy, a specialized workbook, weekly speech and singing group sessions, daily home practice, and re-evaluations every three-to-six months. People with Parkinson’s who adhere to the SPEAK OUT! protocol have been shown to maintain their treatment results for 12+ years and counting.
About Parkinson Voice Project
Parkinson Voice Project was established in 2005 and is dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s regain and retain their speech and swallowing. They treat patients in their Texas clinic and train speech-language pathologists and graduate students worldwide. Their SPEAK OUT! Workbook is available in eight languages: English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Since 2008, the organization has not charged for their therapy services. Their program is primarily funded by charitable gifts and pay-it-forward donations from grateful patients and their families and friends. Parkinson Voice Project maintains a score of 100 on CharityNavigator.org. To learn more, visit www.ParkinsonVoiceProject.org
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