The Parkinson Voice Project (PVP), a nonprofit organization, has named Fort HealthCare as a recipient of its 2019 SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd Grant Program. Fort HealthCare is one of 149 grant recipients throughout the world.

Grant recipients include hospitals, university speech therapy clinics, private practices, and nonprofit Parkinson’s organizations. Each clinic receives training for their speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and graduate students, as well as free speech therapy supplies. Some grant recipients also receive funding to offset the cost of providing group speech therapy. Since not all patients can travel to PVP headquarters in Texas for treatment, the organization offers workshops to train SLPs from other parts of the world in its programs.

Kelly Foster, MS-CCC, SLP is a speech-language pathologist at Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Center. She was instrumental in securing the grant and received specialized training to assist with implementing PVP’s speech therapy program in the south-central Wisconsin area.

She notes, “We see numerous patients in our clinics with Parkinson’s Disease and I felt that their communication skills were being underserved. So many patients have complaints that people cannot understand them, or they are told they talk too softly. This grant is for a program that helps empower these patients to speak with purpose and intent. Once they start doing that, they become more confident in themselves and start living with intent.”

PVP Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Samantha Elandary notes, “Up to 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and aspiration pneumonia caused by swallowing issues accounts for 70 percent of the mortality rate in this patient population. Awarding these grants has substantially increased access to quality speech treatment to those living with Parkinson’s.”

Foster adds, “Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, the skills that patients who complete SPEAK OUT! and participate in the LOUD Crowd have learned are skills that they will use for the duration of their lives.”

Regarding treatment, Foster explains, “With a referral from a primary care provider, patients can come in to see me for an initial evaluation to determine if they would be appropriate candidates for the SPEAK OUT! program. Once they are deemed appropriate candidates, they complete a four-week individual treatment program with me.”

Foster continues, “Typical sessions are 45 minutes, three times a week for four weeks. Upon completion of the program, patients transition to the LOUD Crowd, which is a weekly group session to help maintain their new skills. It’s a commitment and requires daily practice at home, but it’s effective.”

With a provider’s referral, patients can make appointments with Kelly by calling the Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Center clinic in Fort Atkinson at (920) 563-9357 or Lake Mills at (920) 648-8170.

According to the PVP, their grant program honors Daniel R. Boone, PhD, a world-renowned speech-language pathologist and voice expert who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson’s could improve their communication if they spoke with intent. The PVP’s highly effective speech therapy program is based on Boone’s teachings and combines individual therapy with ongoing group therapy to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act.

The PVP website explains that speaking and swallowing are highly automatic behaviors, meaning people do not think about how their body performs these processes. Dopamine, a chemical in the brain, facilitates automatic movements. In Parkinson’s, there is a considerable loss of dopamine. With less dopamine, automatic movements are disrupted which can contribute to speech and swallowing difficulties. The programs developed by the PVP encourage speaking with intent or deliberation, which is a system in the brain that is dependent on dopamine. That is why patients receiving this specialized therapy to help with Parkinson’s can improve their speaking abilities.

About Parkinson Voice Project

PVP is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the world solely dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speech and swallowing. The organization runs a speech therapy clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and hosts the World’s Largest Parkinson’s Chorus consisting of nearly 100 individuals with Parkinson’s whose voices have been restored through their program.

PVP developed the SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd program. The vision of the organization is to replicate its two-part therapy approach across the globe to help individuals with Parkinson’s preserve their speech and swallowing abilities. More than 1,600 speech-language pathologists have been trained to date, including clinicians in Australia, Canada, Finland, Greece, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and New Zealand. For more information about PVP, visit www.parkinsonvoiceproject.org.

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