Announcing our 2023 Student Grant Winners!

Read all about our 2023 Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy Student Grant Recipients!

Each of these four students received a $1,500 student research grant from LSVT Global, to be used during the 2023-2024 academic year. These unrestricted grants provide funding to help support their treatment research projects.

Speech Language Pathology

Alyssa Fitzgerald, MS Student, Haifa University

“Creative Arts Group as a Treatment for Aphasia.”

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate, often impacting multiple aspects of daily life. Aphasia is typically a drastic and unexpected diagnosis that causes changes in employment (Graham et al., 2011), autonomy, self-identity (Taubner et al., 2019), and quality of life.

Traditionally, aphasia rehabilitation has followed an impairment-based model that focused primarily on improving language outcomes. However, recent evidence has highlighted the importance of considering psychosocial factors in people with aphasia (PWA) to support life participation and quality of life (Simmons-Mackie, 2018) Yet, in a study of 124 speech-language pathologists, 58 percent identified not feeling confident in addressing psychosocial concerns in

PWA (Northcott et al., 2017). Typical counseling techniques (“talk therapy”) are often not accessible for PWA, given their complex communication needs (Thomas et al., 2013). Taken together, these issues highlight a need for an inclusive approach for PWA to address psychosocial needs without heavy linguistic demands.

This study aims to analyze the efficacy of a creative arts group for PWA to address their communication and psychosocial needs simultaneously. Each participant will receive weekly hour-long sessions of this treatment for a total of six weeks. Researchers will facilitate sessions by encouraging the use of art as a tool for communication. Researchers will then determine efficacy by measuring language, communication, and psychosocial outcomes following treatment.

Physical Therapy

Ashley Garza, DPT Student, Franklin Pierce University

“LSVT-BIG: Improving Motor and Non-Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease: A Mixed-Methods Study.”  

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder clinically characterized by both motor and non-motor symptoms that not only affect the patient’s activities of daily living but also their overall quality of life. As there is no known cure for PD, it is vital to conduct research to assess interventions that can reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life.

This mixed-methods study aims to evaluate the effects of administering the LSVT-BIG program on both motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with PD using qualitative and quantitative measures over an extended period of up to six months post- intervention. We wish to determine if there are long-term benefits of PD symptoms beyond two months and expect to find continued positive effects of LSVT-BIG in PD patients. We plan to utilize the obtained findings to determine if there is a time frame in which symptom progression is no longer slowed, helping establish the maximum period for which LSVT-BIG can effectively benefit PD patients before requiring a return to treatment.

Occupational Therapy

Lauren Winterbottom, EdD student, Teachers College, Columbia University

“Impact of self-controlled practice on motor learning for individuals with upper limb hemiparesis after stroke.”

Upper limb impairments after stroke can lead to loss of independence and long-term disability. Motor learning interventions for individuals with stroke can improve upper limb function and engagement in daily activities. Self-controlled practice (SCP) involves allowing choice when practicing a motor skill, and it has been shown to improve motor learning in healthy adults as well as individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Additionally, SCP may improve psychosocial outcomes, including intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and positive affect. Although SCP has been incorporated into complex stroke rehabilitation interventions, little is known about its specific impact on motor learning for individuals with stroke. The purpose of this pilot randomized controlled trial is to investigate the effects of SCP on motor learning for adults with chronic upper limb impairment after stroke.

In this study, all participants will practice a standardized motor task with both their more affected and less affected hands for two consecutive days. During each day of practice, participants will complete 50 trials (10 blocks of 5 trials each) with their more affected hand and 20 trials (10 blocks of 2 trials each) with their less affected hand. The experimental group is given control over their practice schedule and will choose the order they practice blocks of trials. The control group will follow a pre-determined practice schedule based on the experimental group’s choices.

Outcome measures will be assessed on Day 1 before practice (Pre-Test), Day 2 after practice (Post-Test), and Day 3 (Follow-up). Motor learning outcomes will be 24-hour Retention of the trained motor task and Immediate and 24-hour Transfer of an untrained motor task. Psychosocial outcomes including intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and positive affect will also be assessed. We anticipate, based on previous research, that SCP will have a positive effect on motor learning and psychosocial outcomes. This preliminary data can be used to inform the development of future stroke rehabilitation studies.

Occupational Therapy

Madison Meyer, OTD Student, University of Missouri

“Parkinson’s Champions: Empowering Dual Task Abilities.”

Dual tasking is the ability for an individual to participate in two or more tasks simultaneously. Individuals participate in dual tasking in many activities of daily living balancing motor and cognitive tasks. People living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience difficulties with dual-tasking due to the pathophysiology of disease progression. While literature suggests that motor and cognitive dual-tasking interventions are effective for individuals with PD, there is a lack of literature to support improvement in functional cognition, quality of life (QOL) and occupational performance.

Researchers frequently utilize assessments including the Functional Reach Test (FRT), the Nine-Hole Peg Test, and the Timed Up and Go (TUG). Although these assessments measure components that are essential for functional tasks, there is minimal evidence that suggests improvement in these components correlate to improvements in occupational performance. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the impact of a multimodal (education and training), dual task training program on QOL, functional cognition, and occupational performance with individuals with PD. Using a case series pre- and post-test design, approximately 6-8 individuals who meet the inclusion criteria will participate in this study. Researchers will utilize (1) Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire 39 (PDQ-39), (2) Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System version 43 (PROMIS-43), (3) Timed Up and Go- Cognitive (TUG­ COG), (4) Activity Card Sort (ACS), and the (5) Weekly Calendar Planning Activity- Version 2 (WCPA) to determine the effectiveness of the dual-tasking intervention. Students within the Occupational Therapy program at the University of Missouri will administer the intervention with direct supervision from a licensed occupational therapist. Researchers will compare the pre-test and post-test data using statistical software.

Because occupational therapists are concerned with an individual’s ability to engage in desired occupations and to improve QOL, it is the hope that this study will provide OT practitioners with confidence that dual tasking is a viable treatment option for improvement in occupational performance, functional cognition and QOL and not just improvement in performance skills.

“It is a great honor for LSVT Global to seed future researchers in the fields of speech, physical and occupational therapy. It is our hope that these opportunities will ignite a passion and life-long pursuit of treatment research in these young scholars. Congratulations to all the winners!” 

– Cynthia Fox, PhD, CCC-SLP; CEO, LSVT Global