NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders at Stephen F. Austin State University has received a two-part grant to fund Speak Out! and Loud Crowd, a program developed by Parkinson Voice Project, to offer free speech therapy to people with Parkinson's disease for a second year.

The Parkinson Voice Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing speech disorders that people with Parkinson's disease develop.

Through the grant, faculty members in SFA's Department of Human Services and all graduate students studying speech-language pathology have been trained to conduct the program.

“Up to 90% 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% of the mortality rate in this patient population,” said Parkinson Voice Project’s founder and CEO, Samantha Elandary. “Awarding these grants has substantially increased access to quality speech treatment for those living with Parkinson’s.”

Speak Out! is an intensive individual therapy program designed to address the motor speech deficits associated with Parkinson's disease, such as softer speech, a hoarse or scratchy voice and inconsistent speech volumes. Typically, the program comprises 12 individual speech-therapy sessions.

After completing the Speak Out! phase, participants will progress to the Loud Crowd portion, where they will engage in a group therapy setting once a week for maintenance.

The Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders doubles as a community clinic and learning facility for SFA students to hone their skills in a supervised setting. Graduate students will conduct the therapy supervised by licensed speech-language pathologists for both parts of the program.

“Our clinic provides speech/language services, such as therapy and evaluations to clients of all ages and with varying disorders in the East Texas area. We see at least 60 clients per semester,” said Deena Petersen, director for the Stanley Center for Speech and Language Disorders at SFA. “We are excited to offer the Speak Out! and Loud Crowd therapy for the second year to help those with Parkinson’s speak with intent.”

For more information, contact the center at (936) 468-7109.