Flurorscopic image from a swallow evaluation

RESEARCH MISSION AND GOALS: The UAD engages in research aimed at improving health outcomes and quality of life associated with disorders of airway protection.  To that end, we employ a two-pronged approach including both basic science and clinical research.  Basic science research goals focus on developing a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying airway protection and its disorders.  Clinical research goals are the development of novel and robust evaluation and treatment techniques for speech, swallowing and cough disorders.  Our current projects focus on multiple behaviors contributing to airway protection and the ability to modify those behaviors via non-pharmacological treatment paradigms.  Research participants include healthy volunteers, people with Parkinson’s disease, and other movement disorders.

Ongoing studies

IRB201700959 – currently enrolling participants

Mechanisms of Airway protection Dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease

Aspiration pneumonia (APn) occurs at a disproportionately high rate in patients with parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease (PD), compared to healthy age-matched older adults. This study aims to determine the underlying causative factors that contribute to airway protection deficits in PD and parkinsonism (MSA or PSP) in order to reduce the incidence of aspiration-related illness in these patients.

IRB202001307 – Enrollment complete

Impact of COVID-19 on communication in people with Parkinson’s disease

The purpose of this study is to gather information about how social distancing measures, intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, affect communication effectiveness in people with PD, who are likely to have difficulty communicating at baseline.

IRB201902794 – enrollment complete

Speech and Swallow Changes with Deep Brain Stimulation in PD: A Retrospective Study

Deep brain stimulation is used to treat patients with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). While the implications of speech and swallow function pre-surgically have not been extensively mapped to their post-surgical outcomes, some studies that have identified decline in speech and/or swallowing post-surgically. To date, there is little evidence regarding which DBS target site(s), laterality, or number of leads is/are better or worse for speech and swallow function in patients with PD.

IRB201602473 – Enrollment complete

Differentiating typical and atypical Parkinson’s disease using speech assessment

The purpose of the study is to determine whether speech assessment clinical data can be used to identify patients with typical Parkinson’s disease versus those with atypical forms of Parkinsonism. We hope to use this data to investigate differences is speech-assessment metrics between Parkinson’s disease and Atypical Parkinson’s patients that could prove useful diagnostic markers in differentiating the diseases.

Planned / Upcoming studies

not currently enrolling

Teletherapy for speech and swallowing disorders in parkinsonism

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare professionals to develop innovative ways to deliver healthcare. The goal of this study is to test a pragmatic telehealth approach to monitoring and providing speech and/or swallow-related treatment to these patients.
Anticipated start date: August 2021