Watch the FULL Interview with Parkinson Voice Project’s founder, Samantha Elandary
(Scroll down this page to see excerpts of the video where we cover different topics, including tips for swallowing, speaking, excess droll, stuttering, and singing.)
Parkinson’s Voice Project
Samantha Elandary is a speech-language pathologist who founded The Parkinson’s Voice Project, a non-profit in Richardson, Texas, whose mission is to increase access to affordable speech therapy services for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Samantha created an innovative and intensive 2-phase speech therapy model that focuses on speaking with INTENT, which she has titled SPEAK OUT!.
How SPEAK OUT! Works
Phase 1: Training
- 12 sessions lasting 40-45 minutes each with a speech therapist who is a trained SPEAK OUT! Provider.
Frequency varies and is based on the person, but typically people are seen 2-3 sessions per week for 4-6 weeks.
Twice daily lessons from the SPEAK OUT! workbook for 25 days.
Phase 2: Maintenance
Daily lessons from the SPEAK OUT! workbook.
Weekly meetings with the LOUD CROWD to practice skills and maintain progress.
How do you know if you need speech therapy for your Parkinson’s symptoms?
Speaking and swallowing are highly-automatic behaviors. Dopamine facilitates automatic movements and, with Parkinson's, there is a considerable loss of dopamine.
With less dopamine, automatic movements are disrupted, which can contribute to speech and swallowing difficulties.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do people ask you to repeat?
Does your voice sound hoarse, scratchy, or breathy?
Does your family say you speak too softly?
Do you clear your throat often?
Is your voice strong on some days, weak on others?
Do you cough when you eat or drink?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’d benefit from seeing a speech-language pathologist (ie. a speech therapist) for a bout of speech therapy.
How is SPEAK OUT different than LSVT LOUD therapy for Parkinson’s?
You’ve likely heard of the Lee-Silverman Voice Therapy (LSVT) LOUD program.
According to their website, LSVT LOUD “trains people with PD to use their voice at a more normal loudness level while speaking at home, work, or in the community. Key to the treatment is helping people ‘recalibrate’ their perceptions so they know how loud or soft they sound to other people and can feel comfortable using a stronger voice at a normal loudness level.”
Similarly, Parkinson Voice Program’s innovative program - SPEAK OUT! – combines speech, voice, and cognitive exercises to increase strength and endurance for speaking and swallowing.
However, the premise of this program is to speak with INTENT, instead of focusing just on being louder.
In Samantha’s words, “People don’t want to be louder. They want to be heard.”
Another way the SPEAK OUT! program differs from LSVT LOUD is that the Parkinson Voice Project offers a second phase of their program to assist with maintaining the gains made during the program.
They call this group, the LOUD CROWD, which is a group of SPEAK OUT! graduates who practice their new skills in a group setting once a week.
What is the cost for the SPEAK OUT! Program? Does insurance cover it?
The Parkinson Voice Project is a non-profit. If patients are seen at their facility in Richardson, Texas, they do not charge patients or bill insurance for speech therapy services.
Since 2008, their program has been funded entirely through donations and a “Pay-It-Forward” model. Amazingly, no patient has ever been denied services based on financial challenges or insurance restrictions.
If you’re being seen by a SPEAK OUT! provider in your area, the program is treated similarly to LSVT LOUD or any other speech therapy services which are billed through insurance.
Ask the Speech Therapist…
During our interview with Samantha, she was able to address some of the most common challenges Parkinson’s disease can present that a speech therapist would be able to assist with.
Watch the videos below for her answers.
"Tips for Difficulty Swallowing with Parkinson’s?"
"Tips and Exercises to Improve a Soft Voice with Parkinson’s?"
"Why would someone with Parkinson’s have trouble with Laughing or Coughing?"
"Tips for Excessive Saliva, Drool, or Dry Mouth with Parkinson’s?"
"Tips for Stuttering and Parkinson’s?"
"Tips for feeling Hoarse or Scratchy with Parkinson’s?"
"Can someone with Parkinson’s get back to Singing?"
Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness has no financial interests in The Parkinson’s Voice Project and only advocates it based on the excellent service they provide the Parkinson’s community.
Sarah received a small honorarium from The Parkinson Voice Project for presenting at their clinic in Richardson, Texas. You can register for and watch Sarah’s presentation, “How to Create Your Personalized Parkinson’s Plan of Attack” by following the link below:
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