Welch-Schmidt Center Receives Parkinson Voice Project Grant


Photo by Matthew Goldsmith

The Welch-Schmidt Center at the University of Central Missouri conducts virtual group vocal training with Parkinson’s patients. The group sessions are meant to benefit not only the patients, but the UCM students who are training them. “I think that it’s a great experience for us students to have, one, the experience of group therapy because that could be an aspect that we see in our future careers, and two, working with people with Parkinson’s because that’s also another big population that we can work with in the future,” Lindsey Bogart, second-year speech language pathology graduate student, said.

Written by Matthew Goldsmith, News Editor

  The nonprofit organization Parkinson Voice Project named the Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Central Missouri as a recipient of its 2021 SPEAK OUT! & LOUD Crowd Grant. The grant seeks to help make speech therapy accessible to individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

  Parkinson Voice Project is an organization devoted to helping Parkinson’s patients with their speech and swallowing. Its grant recipients include hospitals, university speech therapy clinics, private practices and nonprofit organizations.

  Bonnie Slavych, assistant professor of communication disorders, said she was happy the WSC received the grant, specifying that it wasn’t guaranteed that the WSC would be a recipient. 

  “When I did see our name come up as one of the selected universities, I was very excited,” Slavych said.

  Slavych said the WSC will use funding to help introduce safety equipment and to provide free treatment to area residents. Another one of the advantages of the WSC receiving the grant is the opportunities it provides students.

  “It gave our incoming students — graduate students — also the opportunity to get free training, which they won’t get outside of here,” Slavych said. 

  Slavych said the WSC has students in group and individual training, in which students will help Parkinson’s patients with elements of speech therapy like volume. 

  “You’ll hear an individual with Parkinson’s disease say ‘oh, it sounds like I’m screaming,’ when to you and me it’s this normal volume, but they’ll talk really low and they think that they’re talking loud,” Slavych said.

  Emily Rothschild, third-year speech language pathology graduate student, has received training from the Parkinson Voice Project. She said her training was useful when working with Parkinson’s patients.

  “Since I had that background and that training, I felt like that really helped me a lot when I was seeing the clients because I was able to refer back to that program,” Rothschild said. 

  Rothschild said that getting the grant is important because it allows students to become more well-versed in working with different kinds of patients.

  “It’s definitely important for us as students to kind of get exposure to all different areas of speech and language treatment and not just pediatrics or childhood cases,” Rothschild said. 

  Lindsey Bogart, second-year speech language pathology graduate student, is currently in group training at the WSC. She said that the group has an established routine for their sessions.

  “It’s pretty structured. Same routine every single time. There’s always the warmups, the counting, the reading and the cognitive exercises. They’re just tailored to different scenarios,” Bogart said.

  Bogart said she had to undergo online training to prepare her for working with the group and said she has enjoyed working with her group this semester. 

  “This has allowed me to see Parkinson’s from eight different perspectives, so it’s been really great to learn more about the disease and how it affects people differently, and it’s been a really great experience,” Bogart said.