Speech therapy program offered for those with communication disorders

Faculty members in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have been trained in the SPEAK OUT! program, made available by a grant from the Parkinson Voice Project

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Six faculty members in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Penn State have been trained in SPEAK OUT!, a speech therapy program meant to address motor speech deficits associated with Parkinsonism.

The primary goals of SPEAK OUT! are to strengthen the muscles used for speaking and swallowing and to teach patients how to speak with intent. 

“We are happy to be able to bring this speech and voice program to people with Parkinson’s disease in the central Pennsylvania region,” said Anne Marie Kubat, assistant teaching professor of communication sciences and disorders and coordinator of the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic. “We are piloting the program in September and October by first offering the treatment to faculty and staff at our University Park campus, and then expanding the program to the local community.”

The program, developed by the Parkinson Voice Project, consists of 12 individual speech therapy sessions conducted in a four-week period by a SPEAK OUT!-trained speech-language pathologist. Together, the patient and the speech-language pathologist work their way through a series of speech, voice and cognitive exercises.  

As patients go through the program, they learn to “speak with intent” by progressing through a series of carefully crafted speech and voice exercises. Once patients complete the program they transition to the second part of Parkinson Voice Project’s program called The LOUD Crowd.

“When we speak with intent or deliberation, we are compensating for systems in the brain that are affected in Parkinson’s,” Kubat said. “This is how people with Parkinson's can improve their speaking abilities.” 

A grant from the Parkinson Voice Foundation made offering this program to the Penn State community — and eventually members of the local community — possible. The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is one of a few dozen university clinics and hospitals around the country to be awarded this grant. 

The Parkinson's Voice Project grant also will provide free online training for CSD graduate students, and will allow clinical faculty to supervise graduate student clinicians as they provide the treatment, Kubat said.

Trained CSD faculty members include Constance Kossan, assistant teaching professor and professor in charge of the undergraduate program, who attended a three- day live training during the summer, as well as Kubat; Elise Lindquist, instructor and clinical supervisor; Amanda Byrd, instructor and clinical supervisor; Ji Min Lee, assistant professor; and Nicole Etter, assistant professor, who completed an intensive online training course. 

There will be two informational meetings for the SPEAK OUT! program: from 11 to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, both in 202 Ford Building on the University Park campus. 

These information sessions will provide information about the SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd programs, and CSD faculty trained in these programs will be on hand to answer questions. Interested individuals also can enroll in the program. 

For more information, email Kubat at or Kossan at

Credit: Parkinson Voice Project All Rights Reserved.

Last Updated September 17, 2018