Southern University graduate students in exclusive group trained to use new technology to assist Parkinson patients


Southern University's Speech-Language Pathology Department graduate students are part of an exclusive group to receive instructions on how to use an invention that helps patients with Parkinson's disease to speak clearer.


Southern is the only historically black college to be part of the SpeechVive technology and its grad students will be the very first graduating student clinicians to use the technology, according an official with SpeechVive.


In fact, the closest universities where the device is in use is at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and the University of Florida in Gainesville.


Some faculty and graduate students were involved in training sessions Tuesday on how to use the device and provide instructions to Parkinson patients the device which will help them improve their speech.


"This is great for Southern University to be able to help patients in the community and all across the state who will benefit from this technology," said Leigh Anne Baker, Director of SU's Clinical Services for Speech-Language Pathology, a part of the College of Nursing and Allied Health. Baker was a crucial part of getting the invention to the Baton Rouge campus.


Parkinson's is neurological disease that, among other things, can affect the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat, voice box and lungs, all of which are involved in producing speech. Some of the results are low voice volume or soft speech, imprecise speech sounds or speaking too fast or too slow.


According to SpeechVive, it's technology, which resembles a Bluetooth earpiece, improves the patient's speech clarity by altering volume, articulation or speech rate.


Several of the graduate students practiced on the device and discovered the changes in sound modulation during the training session.


"Our students will be getting hands-on experience with helping persons with Parkinson Disease improve their quality of life," Baker said. "These are the kind of experiences that will help them here and when they go into the job market."


Jessica Huber, at Purdue University, invented The SpeechVive technology. Meredith Fonseca, a Clinical Marketing Manager with SpeechVive, managed the demonstrations and training on Tuesday.







"Students at Southern University will be the very first graduating students in the country to be SpeechVive trained," Fonseca said. "Having this specialty training will make them not only better, more knowledgeable clinicians but also more marketable to potential employers."


Southern is the first HBCU to receive training with the device.


"Not only is Southern University the only historically black university with SpeechVive technology it is the only university in the U.S. training graduate clinicians to use this technology," she said.


Just how did Southern get into this position?


"When Ms. Baker, who is a former student of SpeechVive inventor Dr. Jessica Huber, reached out to us we were only training large, nationally recognized Parkinson's Centers of Excellence," Fonseca said. "Ms. Baker convinced us of the value in bringing this technology to Southern University and in training graduate clinicians."


"Since Southern University is the only location providing SpeechVive evaluations between Austin Texas and Gainesville, Florida," Fonseca said, "we believe these students will have ample opportunity to serve the Parkinson's community.


Baker said the university will be able to start assessing Parkinson patients for the apparatus in about two weeks. Patients who fit the requirements for the SpeechVive will order the device, which will come to Southern. SU students will fit the patients with the appliance.


Parkinson patients can call 225-771-2564 to schedule an appointment. "We expect to get clients from around the state and probably from Mississippi," Baker said.


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