COLUMBUS, Miss-- A grant from the Parkinson Voice Project will help expand the work of Mississippi University for Women’s Speech and Hearing Center.

The Parkinson Voice Project recently awarded the grant to The W’s Dr. Laura Ball, who has spent more than 20 years working with individuals with progressive neurologic diseases (e.g. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s). The grant will allow the Speech and Hearing Center to expand existing clinical services. The newly renovated Turner Hall houses the Speech and Hearing Center and provides the capacity for adult group therapy.

“We are thrilled about Dr. Ball’s grant,” said Dr. Kathy Shapley, chair of The W’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology. “Her commitment to student academic and clinical education as well as research has made her a valuable member of the department.”

The creators of the Parkinson Voice Project developed an effective program combining education, individual speech therapy and ongoing group sessions to address speech impairments associated with Parkinson's disease. The program is based on motor learning principals and helps individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speaking abilities.

Dr. Ball’s grant award will be used to teach clinical educators and students (graduate and undergraduate) at The W about the Parkinson Voice Project program. The support materials for students and individuals with Parkinson's disease are provided by the grant.

“The training we provide for students will help address a need in Mississippi and build future workforce capacity to serve individuals who have Parkinson’s using the SPEAK OUT!® program,” Shapley said.
In addition, the Speech and Hearing Center will create a local LOUD Crowd® support group to provide continuing support of people with Parkinson's disease in the region. The grant will allow us to provide ongoing support to people with Parkinson disease, their families and caregivers for years to come.

SPEAK OUT!® and The LOUD Crowd® is a therapy approach developed by Parkinson Voice Project that combines education, individual speech therapy and ongoing group sessions to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their speech and voice.

All clinical programs associated with the grant will be provided free of charge as a component of The W’s associated research program. In response to the award, Dr. Ball is developing a research program to assess local and regional outcomes of the "Speak Out!" program for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, an undergraduate student in speech-language pathology is in the planning stages of an honors research project based on the grant. The goal of her project is to design and to evaluate the effectiveness of a “virtual” Parkinson’s disease Support Group. The group is intended to respond to the unique needs of people with Parkinson’s disease and those imposed as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would like to participate in the project, please contact Dr. Ball at (662) 329-7277 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


May 4, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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(662) 329-1976