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WIU Receives Grant to Provide Speech Therapy to Those with Parkinson's

July 1, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Speech-Language Hearing Clinic has been named one of 149 recipients of a grant from the Parkinson Voice Project.

Through the 2019 SPEAK OUT! and The LOUD Crowd grant, the WIU clinic will provide funding to offset the cost of providing group speech therapy to people with Parkinson's Disease. It also helps the clinic offer free training for the WIU clinic's speech-language pathologists and graduate students, as well as provide speech therapy supplies.

"We feel very fortunate to have received this grant from the Parkinson Voice Project," said WIU Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology Graduate Coordinator Julie Cox. "This has allowed three of our faculty - all speech-language pathologists - to be trained to use the techniques for SPEAK OUT! and The LOUD Crowd."

Cox said those who are already trained in the two-step process will now be able to share the program with WIU graduate students, and the WIU clinic will begin offering these services to individuals with Parkinson's Disease in September.

"If you, or someone you know, has received a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, please remember that it is never too early to begin exercising the muscles used for speech and swallowing," she added.

Other national and international recipients of the grant funding include hospitals and other university speech therapy clinics, as well as private practices and non-profit Parkinson's organizations.

"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," said Parkinson Voice Project's Founder and Chief Executive Officer Samantha Elandary.

The grant program honors Daniel R. Boone, PhD, a world-renowned speech-language pathology and voice expert, who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson's could improve their communication if they spoke with "intent." The project is based on Boone's teachings and combines individual therapy with ongoing group therapy.

The Parkinson Voice Project is the only non-profit organization in the world dedicated to helping those with Parkinson's to improve speech and swallowing. The organization runs a speech therapy clinic on the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. They also host the world's largest Parkinson's Chorus, made up of 100 people with Parkinson's whose voices have been restored through the program.

More than 1,600 speech-language pathologists around the world have been trained through the project.

For more information about the program, visit

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