The Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program at Salus University has received two grants that will be used to help students learn to care for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and acquired brain injuries.

Brain injury support group working on mask projectThe first grant is from the Parkinson’s Voice Project and will cover training students in techniques that help patients improve their speech intelligibility.

“Parkinson’s patients are asked to be louder, and that loudness increases their ability to be understood,” said Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, chair and program director of the University’s SLP program.

According to Serianni, the grant will help cover the cost in training students on the techniques used to help Parkinson’s patients; train additional faculty, so there will be six individuals now at Salus who are certified to provide “Speak Out!” techniques and who can host the “Loud Crowd,” a group of Parkinson’s individuals who meet once a week to continue to practice what they learned in individual sessions; and to purchase materials for clients at the Speech-Language Institute (SLI) of Salus.

The grant is estimated to be around $20,000, and it’s the fourth year the program has been awarded this grant. “Our students graduate with an extra certification and are able to provide the care as practitioners once they leave. That’s probably the primary advantage (of the grant),” said Serianni. “Secondly, it gives the students an evidence-based practice, so there is good research around these techniques. The patients benefit from the services, so it attracts a good number of individuals to our clinic for the services.”

The second grant is for more than $2,500 from the Council on Brain Injury (CoBI), which supports individuals who have acquired brain injuries through motor vehicle accidents, sporting accidents or strokes. The idea around CoBI is to bring public awareness to the changes that happen to one’s brain after an accident. This is also the fourth year that Salus has received this grant, with this being the largest sum to date.
 
Brain injury support group with masks“On Monday nights we run an adult support group at SLI for brain injury patients,” said Serianni. “This grant will provide our students with state-of-the-art materials, whether that’s iPad applications, assessments, test books, or materials to take out into the community to help public awareness.”
 
Serianni said the grants will allow SLP students to have the materials that support a good grasp of how to work with a patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s or what it’s like to live with a brain injury. Once they become practitioners, they’ve had experiences that contribute to a deep, global understanding of the care required for with adults with these conditions. “By financially supporting the clinic, these grants help boost the offerings that we use to teach our graduate students,” he said.