JONESBORO — Arkansas State University Speech and Hearing Center has been awarded a grant becoming the state’s first and only SPEAK OUT!® Therapy & Research Center.
According to a press release, Parkinson Voice Project of Richardson, Texas, is awarding the A-State Speech and Hearing Clinic a five-year SPEAK OUT! Grant.
Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest-growing neurological disorder and the second-most prevalent brain disease in the United States.
Now, the Parkinson Voice Project, a nonprofit clinic committed to helping people with Parkinson’s regain and retain their speech and swallowing, is collaborating with the Arkansas State University Speech and Hearing Center to help Arkansans with Parkinson’s Disease have access to high-quality speech treatment through the grant.
Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of Parkinson Voice Project, said in the press release that SPEAK OUT! is a highly effective, research-based speech therapy protocol that can also minimize the risk of life-threatening swallowing complications.
Through this collaboration, the A-State clinic will specialize in online treatment delivery and commits to providing SPEAK OUT! Therapy at no cost to any person in Arkansas diagnosed with Parkinson’s or a related movement disorder.
Shanon Brantley, PHD, assistant professor of communication disorders at Arkansas State University Speech and Hearing Center in Jonesboro, said on Tuesday that they are excited to have been award the grant, which they had applied for last June.
She said this will enable patients who are not feeling well, homebound, can’t drive, or who live in rural areas or further away to now receive the speech therapy for free, which also eliminates insurance and financial barriers.
“We use the same set of muscles for speech as we do for swallowing and Parkinson’s affects both,” Brantley explained, noting that ninety percent of people with Parkinson’s are at risk of losing their ability to speak or even swallow, which is why the clinic’s work is so important.
The grant was a $50,000 cash grant that will be divided into $10,000 a year over a five year period.
Plus, she said it also includes free training, services, supplies and equipment over the five years as well, which totals (with the grant) to more than $280,000.
This includes free training for five faulty members and 60 students and seven different types of treatment manuals in seven different languages for all of their faculty, students and patients.
“We are the only SPEAK OUT!® Therapy & Research Center in the state,” she continued, adding the the nonprofit’s goal is to have a least one center in every state.
However, she said that in order to keep the grant they have to meet and keep curtain criteria such as being a free provider, providing tele-practice and conducting efficient research on SPEAK OUT! Therapy.
Through the SPEAK OUT! Program, she said they can provide classes twice a week for four weeks followed by individuals sections if need once a week.
They already have 12 local free patients who the they have been working with since June, she said, noting that they have also began establishing negotiations with Rock Steady Boxing to begin working with 80 more patients.
Once all the the faculty and students have completed their training, Brantley said they will then be able to extend their free services across the state via the tele-practice services, which she expects to be by May 31.
According to the press release, A-State 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.
Elandary said they selected the A-State Speech and Hearing Clinic because of their compassion and their commitment to serving their Parkinson’s community.
“These new SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Centers will eliminate the barriers currently preventing thousands of people with Parkinson’s from receiving speech treatment,” she said.
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.
For more information call the Arkansas State University Speech and Hearing Center at 870-972-3301. For more information on the Parkinson Voice Project visit their website at parkinsonvoiceproject.org.
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