UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic receives UGA’s Bobbi Meeler Sahm Service and Outreach Award
Nina Santus and T.J. Ragan, clinical faculty members in the Department of Communication Sciences and the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic, received the Bobbi Meeler Sahm Service and Outreach Award to further develop the partnership between the clinic and the Athens Parkinson’s Disease Support Group.
Created by and named for UGA alumna Bobbi Meeler Sahm, the award funds outreach and public service collaborations between UGA and Athens community groups.
The $9,000 award will go toward working with individuals with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) to improve skills such as speaking, swallowing, hearing, and more. Speech-language pathologists treat patients with PD and similar conditions, and graduate student clinicians in the Speech and Hearing Clinic can screen, evaluate, and treat individuals with PD under the supervision of clinical faculty.
“We are so excited and grateful for this award,” Santus said. “Community outreach is vital for best practice for speech-language pathologists working with populations such as persons and families living with a PD diagnosis. This funding will greatly enhance the scope of our work.”
Parkinson’s Disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease, with nearly one million Americans living with the condition and approximately 60,000 Americans diagnosed with PD each year.
90% of individuals with PD are at risk of developing a weak voice, which could lead to difficulties in speaking and swallowing. With early detection, prevention, and speech therapy services, however, they can keep their volume, speech, and swallowing strong, helping their communication and diet.
“If persons with PD and their loved ones learn from our presentations about the importance of voice, speech, and swallow therapy, this could increase prevention in those potential areas of decline and decrease the costs that result from having these deficits,” Santus said.