Last year’s grant trained two faculty members and 30 graduate students. The new grant will train two more faculty members and the incoming cohort of approximately 25 graduate students.

The grant provides USD speech-language pathologists and graduate students with training and materials to implement the Parkinson Voice Project’s SPEAK OUT! speech therapy program and the follow-up LOUD Crowd group sessions, both of which address Parkinson’s disease patients’ problems with speech and communications.

“It’s important to have evidence-based treatments that help people live with a disease like Parkinson’s on a day-to-day basis. That’s what this speech therapy does,” said Elizabeth Hanson, Ph.D., speech-language pathologist and an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders. “This grant is a tremendous benefit to our students and, in turn, to the people with Parkinson’s disease who will be on their caseloads!”

The Parkinson Voice Project offers grants of training and materials to clinical practitioners and graduate programs internationally each year through a competitive application process. Trained USD graduate students will offer the specialized therapy to people with Parkinson’s disease at the USD Speech, Language and Hearing Clinics in Vermillion and in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Health campus or via telehealth. After an initial evaluation, Parkinson’s patients typically complete 12 SPEAK OUT! therapy sessions over four weeks. Once participants have graduated from the program, they attend weekly LOUD crowd group sessions to practice skills.

Speech-language pathology graduate students who received last year’s training praised the program.

“I thought the SPEAK OUT! training was awesome,” said graduate student Kat Baker. “I think it could seriously help a lot of people, and I am excited to try implementing it in my future work sites.”

Graduate student Keturah Swarthout agreed. “I enjoyed how the program walked us through what we’re going to have our clients do.”

The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders website provides more information on USD’s speech therapy for Parkinson’s patients.

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