An interview with Interview Jessica Galgano PhD from Open Lines Speech and Communication & LSVT Global, Inc.

An interview with Interview Jessica Galgano PhD from Open Lines Speech and Communication & LSVT Global, Inc.

An interview with Jessica Galgano PhD from Open Lines Speech and Communication & LSVT Global, Inc. on February 21, 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.



I am a speech-language pathologist and the Founder and CEO of Open Lines® Speech and Communication. My personal experience growing up with a parent who suffered a combat-wounded Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while serving in Vietnam drove me to master the art and science of neurological rehabilitation. I founded Open Lines Speech and Communication on the principle that it is never too late to improve one’s voice, speech, or cognitive-communication abilities.

The highest standards of academic and clinical practice are reflected in my professional experience. I received my doctoral degree in Biobehavioral Sciences from Columbia University, where I conducted research on the neural underpinnings of voice using brain imaging modalities. I am an LSVT LOUD® clinical expert and faculty instructor with LSVT Global, Inc., for whom I regularly teach and lecture about evidence-based intensive therapy programs for people with neurologically based voice and communication disorders at major medical institutions in the US and worldwide.

One of my main findings during my time as a researcher relates to the role of emotional pathways in the brain during the production of voice and speech. Before I researched the impact of stress and emotional influences on voice, I studied the nerve potentials which occur to initiate it. This is of particular importance for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, where initiation of a movement or action is acutely impaired.

I believe the importance of speech and language for our health and emotional wellbeing should not be overlooked. I frequently teach about the fact that cognitive-communication is a major aspect of our lives as social beings, and I believe furthering our understanding of how we understand and consider cognitive-communication in health and disease can help improve the way we treat such disorders.


Can you tell me more about your organization?


Open Lines’ approach to speech-language pathology is holistic. At the highest levels, we recognize people have both cognitive-communication and physical needs, such as thinking and understanding language versus voicing and swallowing. There are also psychological and emotional considerations: the internal states or feelings that can make or break one’s progress and success. Open Lines experts—who are uniquely trained in our proprietary and other effective approaches—help people successfully manage all these factors. We hope our work improves the lives of individuals living with difficulties that impact their ability to think, speak, and swallow. We want our work to support the amazing clinicians and families around the world who give their lives to do the same. I am for my work and the work of the amazing team at Open Lines to continue to facilitate and create new rehabilitation techniques, treatments, and approaches, which will help people and feel empowered to live their lives successfully!


What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


My passion lies in facilitating effective communication to empower and improve well-being for individuals affected by Parkinson’s and their care partners. My journey into Parkinson’s awareness began through personal experiences with a family member’s challenges, igniting a relentless pursuit to bridge scientific insights with clinical practices for the betterment of those impacted by the condition. This pursuit evolved into a commitment to fostering hope for a cure by integrating cutting-edge research, evidence-based therapies, and holistic approaches in my clinical, teaching, and advocacy efforts.


The photo above is one of the Annual NYC Parkinson’s Unity Walk’s teams, featuring LSVT Global co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Lorraine Ramig; former Founder and President/CEO of the Parkinson’s Alliance and the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, Carol Walton; myself; specialists of the Open Lines Speech and Communication staff, Grace Tsang and Bridget Barrett; and May May Ali, the late Muhammad Ali’s oldest daughter.


What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?

Collaboratively, we set transformative goals, from improving vocal loudness and speech clarity to enhancing overall communication skills. Empowering lives by increasing communicative confidence and effectiveness are the core focus.


What type of training?


Specialists at Open Lines target many aspects of communication in neurologically-  based movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. The physical aspect of speaking, the motor speech disorder, is targeted (for example, reduced loudness and speech clarity are targeted); however, our specially trained clinicians also address susceptibility to distractions, reduced attention and memory recall, delayed word retrieval, and the impact anxiety can have on thinking and talking. LSVT LOUD, known internationally as the gold standard approach for respiratory-voice-speech disorders in people with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders, is provided to those who are candidates at the highest level with expert supervision, and other research-based methods are also used to target difficulties with concentrating, remembering, and talking while at work, home or with friends.


How long are the programs?


All programs take one month and are available online. Ongoing support programs are also available.


What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?



The impact of individualized communication therapies on individuals with Parkinson’s can be transformative, extending far beyond enhanced speech and language skills! By addressing the nuanced neurological aspects of communication, research-based interventions not only improve vocal expression but also empower individuals, improving self-confidence, social engagement, and an overall enhanced quality of life. The ripple effect encompasses emotional well-being, social connections, and a profound sense of agency, constituting a holistic and empowering outcome.


What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?


Looking ahead, our aspiration for the programs at Open Lines® is to secure funding that would enable us to create impactful events, materials, and specialized programs tailored for individuals with Parkinson’s. In doing so, we aim to enhance communicative ease, success, and confidence, empowering our participants to actively engage and participate more fully in all aspects of their lives. This vision aligns with our commitment to providing holistic support, encompassing not only the physical aspects of communication but also addressing cognitive, emotional, and social dimensions. We believe these endeavors will contribute significantly to the well-being and quality of life of those we serve.


What events do you participate in?


I served as a volunteer with the NYC Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park every year since 2010. Later, in 2018, I went on to serve as Vice President and Treasurer of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk Executive Board.


Information about the walk is as follows:

2024 marks the 30th year of Parkinson’s Unity Walk, a day where the Parkinson’s community unites to learn, and connect while raising critical funds for a cure. ​


“When the Parkinson’s community rallies together, magical things happen,” said Michael J. Fox. “For years the Unity Walk has united patients and families raising millions of dollars to advance critical programs and research.” ​


Every year, thousands gather in New York City’s Central Park for an event that is more than just a walk. Last year, our community raised over $1 million for Parkinson’s research, with 100 percent of the funds going directly to Parkinson’s research and public policy priorities.


I was invited as a speaker and expert panelist at the Parkinson’s IQ + You event at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in 2022. Parkinson’s IQ and You is a free educational event designed for people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. This in-person event features a program with sessions on navigating Parkinson’s, managing care, and learning about research participation. They have an accompanying Partner Expo, which includes information on treatment options and local resources for the Parkinson’s community.


I teach national and international training workshops, educational seminars, and webinars for LSVT Global, Inc., because I am a faculty instructor and clinical expert in LSVT LOUD. LSVT LOUD is an effective speech treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological conditions.  Named for Mrs. Lee Silverman (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment), a woman living with PD, it was developed by Dr. Lorraine Ramig and has been scientifically studied for over 25 years with support from the National Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding organizations. LSVT LOUD trains people with PD to use their voice at a more normal loudness level while speaking at home, work, or in the community. The key to the treatment is helping people “recalibrate” their perceptions so they know how loud or soft they sound to other people and can feel comfortable using a stronger voice at a normal loudness level.


How does speech therapy also assist caregivers?


Speech and swallowing therapies, and in particular, LSVT LOUD that is provided with the gold standard format and individualized to the specific cognitive and communication needs of the person with Parkinson’s disease, can be beneficial for caregivers of individuals with Parkinson’s disease in several ways:


  1. Improved Communication
  • LSVT LOUD focuses on improving vocal loudness and clarity. As a result, caregivers may find it easier to communicate with individuals with Parkinson’s disease, reducing misunderstandings and frustration.
  1. Enhanced Caregiver-Client Interaction
  • As the person with Parkinson’s disease undergoes LSVT LOUD therapy, caregivers often play a supportive role in encouraging practice and participating in therapy sessions. This shared experience can strengthen the bond between the caregiver and the individual receiving treatment.
  1. Increased Confidence
  • Improved vocal and speech function can lead to increased confidence in daily communication for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Caregivers may notice positive changes in their loved one’s willingness to engage socially, express needs, and participate in activities.
  1. Reduced Caregiver Stress
  • Clear and effective communication can contribute to a more harmonious caregiving environment. When individuals with Parkinson’s disease can express themselves more easily, it may lead to decreased stress for caregivers, making daily interactions smoother and more enjoyable.
  1. Support for Daily Activities
  • LSVT LOUD’s focus on functional communication can assist individuals in their daily activities. Caregivers may find that improved speech and voice contribute to better communication during caregiving tasks, making it easier to address the person’s needs and preferences.
  1. Empowerment
  • Caregivers may feel a sense of empowerment as they witness the positive changes in their loved one’s communication abilities. This improvement can translate into a more active and engaged lifestyle for the person with Parkinson’s disease, resulting in greater joy and a sense of accomplishment for both the individual and their caregiver.


It is important for caregivers to be involved in the therapy process, participating in exercises when appropriate. This collaborative approach can contribute to better outcomes and an improved quality of life for both the individual with Parkinson’s disease and their caregiver.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


Open Lines Speech and Communication


@OpenLinesSpeech (Social Media)


How can others also become advocates for awareness?


Becoming an advocate for Parkinson’s awareness involves raising awareness, supporting affected individuals, and contributing to research efforts. Some ways others can become advocates for Parkinson’s awareness include:

  1. Educate Yourself
  • Learn about Parkinson’s disease, its symptoms, and its impact on individuals and their families. Understanding the challenges faced by those with Parkinson’s is essential for effective advocacy.
  1. Share Information
  • Use social media, blogs, or community forums to share accurate and up-to-date information about Parkinson’s disease. Raise awareness about the realities of living with Parkinson’s and share stories that highlight resilience and courage.
  1. Participate in Awareness Events
  • Join or organize events dedicated to Parkinson’s awareness, such as walks, runs, or fundraisers. These events not only raise funds for research but also provide opportunities to engage with the Parkinson’s community.
  1. Support Parkinson’s Organizations
  • Contribute time, resources, or funds to organizations dedicated to Parkinson’s research and support. Many organizations work tirelessly to advance research, provide resources, and help those affected by the disease.
  1. Advocate for Policy Changes
  • Support policies that improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s. This may include advocating for increased funding for research, better access to healthcare, and policies that promote inclusivity and accommodation.
  1. Volunteer
  • Offer your time to local Parkinson’s support groups, community organizations, or healthcare facilities that specialize in neurological disorders. Volunteering provides direct support to individuals and families affected by Parkinson’s.
  1. Engage with the Parkinson’s Community
  • Attend support group meetings, conferences, or events related to Parkinson’s. Connect with individuals living with Parkinson’s, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to better understand their needs and challenges.
  1. Encourage Early Detection
  • Advocate for regular check-ups and early detection of Parkinson’s symptoms. Early intervention can improve outcomes and quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease.
  1. Promote Inclusivity
  • Advocate for inclusive practices in workplaces, public spaces, and community events. People with Parkinson’s may face mobility challenges, and an inclusive environment helps ensure their full participation in society.
  1. Share Personal Experiences
  • If you have a personal connection to Parkinson’s, share your experiences to humanize the impact of the disease. Personal stories can be powerful tools for raising awareness and fostering empathy.


By taking these steps, individuals can contribute to a more supportive and informed community, ultimately helping to improve the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s disease.


In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy? 


Advocating for Parkinson’s disease awareness requires a dedicated and strategic approach. First and foremost, it’s essential to deepen our understanding of Parkinson’s and its impact on individuals and communities. Sharing this knowledge through various channels—social media, community events, or educational forums—serves to raise awareness on a broader scale.


Collaboration is key in Parkinson’s advocacy. Connecting with other advocates, support groups, and influential figures in the Parkinson’s community can amplify our message. By working together, we can create a stronger, more unified voice that resonates with a larger audience.


Innovative communication strategies play a vital role. Utilizing multimedia content, personal stories, and compelling visuals can make the advocacy message more accessible and emotionally resonant. This helps in capturing the attention of diverse audiences and fostering empathy.


Building a supportive community is crucial. Encouraging open dialogue, sharing personal experiences, and creating spaces for individuals affected by Parkinson’s to connect contribute to a more empathetic and informed society.


Parkinson’s advocacy is an ongoing effort. Regularly assessing the impact of our initiatives, adapting strategies based on feedback, and staying informed about advancements in Parkinson’s research and care are essential for sustained success. Together, we can drive awareness, understanding, and support for those living with Parkinson’s disease.


How can we better fundraise to support a cure for Parkinson’s?


There are many wonderful and successful fund-raising efforts out there. We need more efforts from people like yourself, as well as generous contributions from individuals with the resources and passion to find a cure and provide support for people with (and care teams of) Parkinson’s while they wait for the cure.


What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living e.g., exercise and alternative remedies?


Individuals with Parkinson’s disease can benefit from a combination of research-based and alternative activities to improve and support their daily living. It’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals before starting any new activities. Here are some suggestions:


Research-based Activities:

  1. Exercise Programs
  2. Engage in regular exercise, especially activities that focus on flexibility, strength, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. Research supports the positive impact of exercise on motor symptoms and overall well-being in Parkinson’s patients. Consider activities like LSVT LOUD, LSVT BIG, walking, or Tai-Chi.
  3. Speech Therapy- Participate in speech therapy sessions, especially those focused on improving voice and communication skills. These therapies can address difficulties in articulation and vocal projection associated with Parkinson’s.
  4. Occupational Therapy- Work with an occupational therapist to develop strategies for daily living tasks. This can include adaptive techniques and exercises to maintain independence in activities like dressing, eating, and grooming.
  5. Physical Therapy- Physical therapy can help manage motor symptoms and improve mobility. Therapists can provide specific exercises to address rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability.
  6. Cognitive Therapy- Engage in cognitive training exercises to support mental function. Activities that challenge memory, attention, and problem-solving skills may help slow cognitive decline. Speech and occupational therapists are both involved in this type of training.

Alternative Activities:

  1. Mind-body Practices- Practice mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress and promote overall well-being. These activities may help manage non-motor symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
  2. Dance- Consider dancing, which combines physical activity with rhythm and expression. Dance has been shown to improve motor function, balance, and mood in Parkinson’s patients.
  3. Art and Music Therapy- Explore art and music therapy to enhance emotional expression and creativity. These therapies may contribute to improved mood and quality of life.
  4. Nutritional Support- Pay attention to a balanced diet and consider consulting a nutritionist. Some individuals with Parkinson’s find that dietary adjustments, such as timing the intake of protein with medications, and increased intake of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, may have positive effects.
  5. Acupuncture- Some people with Parkinson’s disease report benefits from acupuncture in managing symptoms like tremors and stiffness. However, individual responses may vary.
  6. Massage Therapy- Massage therapy can help alleviate muscle stiffness and tension. It may contribute to improved relaxation and comfort.
  7. Social Engagement- Stay socially engaged by participating in support groups, community activities, or spending time with friends and family. Social connections can positively impact mental health.


It is crucial to tailor activities to individual preferences and capabilities. Regular communication with healthcare providers ensures that activities align with the specific needs and goals of each person living with Parkinson’s.


Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this? 


People who don’t have Parkinson’s should care about it for several reasons, some of which are listed below:

  1. Compassion and Empathy
  • Cultivating compassion and empathy towards those facing health challenges contributes to a more compassionate and understanding society. Parkinson’s disease can significantly impact individuals and their families.
  1. Community and Well-Being
  • Supporting initiatives related to Parkinson’s or any health issue contributes to the overall well-being of the community. A healthier community is often more productive and harmonious.
  1. Research Benefits
  • Funding and support for Parkinson’s research can lead to breakthroughs not only for Parkinson’s but also for related neurodegenerative diseases. Scientific advancements often have broader implications for healthcare.
  1. Aging Population
  • As the global population ages, neurodegenerative diseases become more prevalent. Understanding and addressing conditions like Parkinson’s become increasingly important for the well-being of an aging population.
  1. Advances in Medicine
  • Medical advancements often have a ripple effect. Progress in understanding and treating Parkinson’s can contribute to general advancements in medicine, potentially benefiting various health conditions.
  1. Quality of Life
  • Supporting individuals with Parkinson’s enhances their quality of life. A community that cares for its members, regardless of their health status, fosters a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.
  1. Educational Value
  • Learning about Parkinson’s and other health conditions increases awareness and knowledge. An informed society is better equipped to address health challenges and promote preventive measures.


In summary, caring about Parkinson’s disease is not just about concern for those directly affected; it is about building a more compassionate, informed, and resilient society that values the well-being of all its members.

Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?


Yes, my great-grandmother, maternal aunt, and father-in-law have all been diagnosed with IPD.


If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life, which song would it be?


For this interview, I will choose a song that reflects creativity, adaptability, and versatility: “Imagine” by John Lennon. It’s a timeless song that often resonates with a sense of hope, unity, and the power of imagination.


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be? 


Embrace the rhythm of resilience, dance through the challenges, and let the melody of hope guide your journey. In unity, we find strength, and in every step forward, we gain triumph over Parkinson’s!