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USD Awarded Training Grant from Parkinson Voice Project

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders recently received a grant from the non-profit Parkinson Voice Project to train graduate students and faculty members on the SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd speech therapy programs. Two faculty members per year and all graduate students enrolled in the department’s Speech-Language Pathology graduate program will undergo the training annually. The program accepts about 25 new students each year.

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.

“Parkinson’s disease decreases one’s ability to move automatically and also to self-monitor movement—that’s why some people with Parkinson’s seem like they’re mumbling quietly, because they don’t realize it,” said Elizabeth Hanson, Ph.D., speech-language pathologist and an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders. “The SPEAK OUT! therapy approach teaches people with Parkinson’s to make their speech movements very intentional, through specialized, intensive speech therapy.”

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.

The South Dakota Parkinson Foundation estimates there are about 3,000 individuals living with this neuro-degenerative, progressive disease in the state, Hanson said. Since USD offers the only graduate program in speech-language pathology in South Dakota, Parkinson’s patients who receive speech therapy in the state will likely receive care from a clinician who is a USD graduate.

“This training grant from the Parkinson Voice Project beautifully complements our purpose and commitment by teaching our licensed and certified speech-language pathologists and our graduate students to apply this evidence-based therapy,” Hanson said. “Together we can help people with communication disorders due to Parkinson’s disease to communicate effectively.”

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


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News