An interview with Rebecca Morgan, Empowering Voices: A Conversation with Parkinson Place Speech Therapy on October 22, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
I have been a speech-language pathologist for over 30 years. I have primarily worked in the medical field with adults for the majority of my career with experience crossing acute and outpatient hospitals, home health, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice. I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex where I currently live with my husband. I have two sons, Luke, and Jake Bowen. Luke is currently in his 3rd year of medical school. Jake is a civil engineer.
Can you tell me more about your organization?
Parkinson Place Speech Therapy is a speech therapy business that I founded in 2015. It has evolved over the years, changing forms as my family and life changed. It initially operated solely as a brick-and-mortar office which closed after a divorce. It was then resurrected as a virtual therapy practice for several years. Currently, services are provided in a variety of settings with in-office (we just opened a new location in Fort Worth), mobile therapy and virtual options based on the client’s needs. We often provide a hybrid model where the client might be seen both in the office and virtually across the week. This works particularly well for clients who still work and for those who have difficulty with long commutes.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My grandfather developed a Parkinsonism after long term use of Haldol following a laryngectomee. He was never provided with proper care and was never offered the opportunity to have therapy for either condition. I was a teenager at the time, and we were not educated on the type of care he should have received. As a result, he began to deteriorate physically and cognitively and was unable to communicate even his own needs. He ate pureed food. His voice was completely taken away and so was the quality of his life. It is my mission to help people find their voice again which also serves to strengthen their swallow.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?
This is determined by both the client and speech-language pathologist jointly. It is important to determine what goals the client has first and we develop objectives accordingly. Typically, this might involve being able to be heard and understood by family and friends, communicate effectively on the job, find the right words when having conversations, swallow food and drink safely to prevent aspiration and to think clearly and remember things. It is important to treat the WHOLE individual as opposed to just an isolated area.
What type of training and how long are the programs?
We offer LSVT LOUD, SPEAK OUT! (R) (Voice programs), AMPcare and McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program (Swallowing), as well as manual therapy techniques which can be effective with both voice and swallowing. In addition, we believe in the importance of cognitive rehabilitation to treat attention, working memory and executive functioning impairments which can also be beneficial with a comprehensive freezing of gait program. (In addition to physical therapy). Program length varies depending on the unique needs of the individual as no two people present the same. I also offer a FREE weekly voice group at Bedford YMCA immediately following their Pedaling for Parkinson’s class.
What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
We often see immediate improvements in voice (at times with the first session). Swallow treatment and cognitive-linguistic treatment can take longer but an average may be 4-12 weeks depending on the severity.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?
I would like to expand to offer more virtual exercise programs including maintenance programs to prevent regression after individual therapy program ends.
What events do you participate in?
I have spoken at Davis Phinney Foundation conference, ASHA, participated in Moving Day DFW last year, and frequently speak to local support groups.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
It is important for caregivers to take part in the therapy sessions as able to assist client in home exercise and generalization into the home and social settings. They also receive training in proper exercise techniques, how to cue patients appropriately at home, assist with use of compensatory cognitive aides, etc.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
The office phone number is 817-761-4144. We offer free consultation.
Our website is www.parkinsonspeech.com
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Volunteer to assist with local Parkinson Foundation events and organizations!
In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy?
Providing educational resources to both caregivers and people with Parkinson’s. Community engagement through hosting community events. Empowering people with Parkinson’s to function at their highest level through collaboration and referral networking with other local professionals and organizations. Outreach through social media is very effective.
How can we better fundraise to support a cure for Parkinson’s?
Take advantage of online opportunities to make it more convenient for people to donate.
What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living e.g. exercise and alternative remedies?
I believe in the mind body connection. Education on proper nutrition, importance of regular socialization and stress management skills is vitally important. Meditation, breath work and mindset training can really enhance a comprehensive program.
Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this?
Parkinson’s Disease is growing at an alarming rate.
Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?
My grandfather was never formally diagnosed but he developed many symptoms consistent with a Parkinson profile after having taken long term Haldol. My Uncle currently has Parkinson’s Disease. I also had an uncle who died after being diagnosed with PSP.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Seek assessment and exercise programming at the earliest sign of change!