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Whitefish firm starts Parkinson's education group

| September 22, 2021 12:00 AM

The nonprofit Parkinson Voice Project has named Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center as a recipient of its 2021 Speak Out! & Loud Crowd grant program.

The grant will enable Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center to establish a Parkinson’s education group in the Flathead Valley. Whitefish Therapy & Sport is the only facility in Northwest Montana to receive this grant.

Grant recipients include hospitals, university speech therapy clinics, private practices and nonprofit organizations. Each clinic receives therapy supplies and free training for their speech-language pathologists.

According to a press release, Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center is committed to offering Parkinson Voice Project’s effective speech therapy program in the Flathead. The program is being led by Whitefish speech-language pathologist Ashley Glover Franz.

“The Parkinson’s community is very active in the Flathead Valley but until now there have not been any support groups to facilitate and promote communication skills,” Glover Franz said. “This is the first time something like this is being offered in Northwest Montana and we’re excited to get started.”

Parkinson Voice Project’s Founder and CEO Samantha Elandary said up to 90% of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and swallowing complications account for 70% of the mortality rate in this patient population.

"Our vision at Parkinson Voice Project is to make our highly effective speech therapy program accessible to people with Parkinson’s worldwide,” she said.

The grant program honors Daniel R. Boone, PhD, a world-renowned speech-language pathologist and voice expert who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson's could improve their communication by “speaking with intent." Parkinson Voice Project’s program combines individual and group therapy to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act.

Two speech-language pathologists based at Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center, Ashley Glover Franz and Laura Pearce, are accepting new patients for individual training in Speak Out!. The weekly support group and maintenance program, the Loud Crowd, begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6 at Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish. This group will meet weekly.

Interested persons should contact Whitefish Therapy & Sport Center at 406-862-9378.