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SLU Clinic to Remove Barriers to Parkinson’s Speech Therapy in Missouri

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Bridjes O'Neil
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90% of Parkinson’s patients risk losing speech & swallowing

ST. LOUIS — A Texas nonprofit clinic is collaborating with Saint Louis University's Paul C. Reinert, S.J., Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic to help all residents of Missouri with Parkinson’s Disease access high-quality speech treatment. 

Parkinson Voice Project, a clinic committed to helping people with Parkinson’s regain and retain their speech and swallowing, recently announced it is awarding SLU a grant worth more than $280,000 in training, services, supplies and equipment over five years, to form the state’s only SPEAK OUT!® Therapy & Research Center. 

A group of people hold signs representing 16 universities, including SLU, who received grants.

SLU is state’s only SPEAK OUT!® Therapy & Research Center. Photo by Parkinson Voice Project.

Ninety percent of people with Parkinson’s are at risk of losing their ability to speak, and swallowing complications are the main cause of death in this population. Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest-growing neurological disorder and the second-most prevalent brain disease in the United States. SPEAK OUT! is a highly effective, research-based speech therapy protocol that can also minimize the risk of life-threatening swallowing complications, according to Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of Parkinson Voice Project.

SLU’s Reinert clinic provides no-fee speech, language and hearing evaluation and treatment to clients of all ages. SLU is one of 16 universities across the country selected for its commitment to the community this year to receive this grant as part of Parkinson Voice Project’s Campaign to Reach America, which raised over $11 million for this campaign this past year.

Andrea Vaughan, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at SLU, is the clinical lead for the SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Center.

A cropped photo of Andrea Vaughan.
Andrea Vaughan. SLU file photo.

“I find significant value in SPEAK OUT! Therapy. I have witnessed its impact on quality of life by maintaining their communication and cognitive skills,” says Vaughan, a board-certified specialist in swallowing disorders licensed to treat patients in Missouri and Illinois.

SPEAK OUT! Therapy & Research Centers will eliminate the barriers preventing thousands of people with Parkinson’s from receiving speech treatment. The SLU clinic will specialize in online treatment delivery through this collaboration and commitment to providing SPEAK OUT! Therapy at no cost to any person in Missouri diagnosed with Parkinson’s or a related movement disorder. This will enable patients who are homebound, don’t drive, or live in rural areas to now receive the speech therapy they need while eliminating insurance and financial barriers. The University will also conduct efficacy research on SPEAK OUT! Therapy. 

Clinical and research faculty members will travel to Parkinson Voice Project’s headquarters for specialized instruction in SPEAK OUT! therapy and research, as well as efficient business practices and outreach. They will engage in master classes with individuals with Parkinson’s and receive hands-on training. The Texas nonprofit will also provide online training for the rest of the universities’ speech-language pathology clinical and research faculty and all their graduate students. 

SLU is currently accepting new patients. For more information on how to enroll in SPEAK OUT! sessions, or the LOUD Crowd, contact, or email the group's facilitator, , to inquire about the program. You may also call the clinic at 314-977-3365 or Andrea Vaughan at 314-977-3402.

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 13,500 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.