The Sound Center Now Accepting United Health Care Plans

The Sound Center is now an in-network provider for the following health plans:

  • United Healthcare Medicare Solutions
  • UHC of Illinois
  • UHC-Navigate
  • UHC-Compass
  • UHC Charter
  • NexusACO NR
  • NexusACO R

We are also participating providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and Medicare.

We are happy to partner with these plans to help you receive the care you need. If you don’t see your plan listed above, contact us. New plans are being added.

The Sound Center welcomes Ann Kolker Rychel

We are pleased to welcome Ann Kolker Rychel, MA, CCC-SLP to The Sound Center! Ann joins The Sound Center as a speech-language pathologist offering therapy for:

  • Voice,
  • Speech,
  • Parkinson’s Disease, including SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd,
  • Swallowing,
  • Language,
  • Cognition

More about Ann:
During her career as a speech-language pathologist, Ann Kolker Rychel has worked with adults in outpatient, sub-acute, inpatient, and inpatient rehabilitation settings. A curious and compassionate approach to therapy coupled with experience treating various speech, voice, and swallowing disorders allow her to guide and assist clients in meeting their goals. As an experienced classically trained singer, she brings unique perspectives and experience to speech and voice therapy. Ann earned a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Saint Xavier University. Ann is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as licensed in the state of Illinois.

Lockdown Throat

“Lockdown throat” is a brand-new term that has arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not a symptom of the virus; Instead, it describes the sore, tight, or dry throat many are experiencing after a long day of remote meetings.

Have you noticed you talk more loudly when you are not face-to-face?

Researchers in Ireland are studying the effects of all of the loud talking we are doing these days. This sustained loud talking can take a toll on our throats. The researchers are conducting a survey to learn more about the specific issues people are experiencing.

There are a few basic practices that will protect you if your throat is bothering you:

  1. Stay hydrated and have a glass of water at hand.
  2. Warm up your voice. Don’t allow your video conference meetings to be the first time you use your voice. Don’t know how to warm up your voice? We can help!
  3. Sit tall.
  4. Schedule vocal breaks.
  5. Relax. If you are tense, your voice will suffer.
  6. Use the same vocal volume you would use if you were in a quiet room sitting about an arm’s length away from someone.

If you are unable to relieve your tired or hoarse voice with these tips, get in touch with us. You may have adapted habits of vocal tension or poor technique that would benefit from a session or two of voice therapy.

 

 

The Sound Center Receives Grant for Parkinson’s Therapy

Oak Brook, IL — The Sound Center has been awarded another grant to assist with Parkinson’s therapy programs.

The grant will support continued growth of SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® treatment programs. These highly effective therapies improve voice and swallowing function in people with Parkinson’s Disease.

“People with Parkinson’s Disease often have voices that are hoarse, breathy, and monotone, and they may be difficult to understand” said Michelle Eppley, Speech-Language Pathologist and President of The Sound Center. “We want them to get their voices back. It is life-changing.”

The focus of these therapy programs is to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. Once participants graduate from individual SPEAK OUT!® sessions, they attend ongoing weekly LOUD Crowd® group sessions. In these groups, they practice their exercises, keep each other motivated, and provide camaraderie.

The Parkinson Voice Project, which runs the grant program, is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the world solely dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speech and swallowing.

With the support of Parkinson Voice Project, The Sound Center offers LOUD Crowd® sessions at no cost to participants. Currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SPEAK OUT!® sessions and LOUD Crowd® meetings are being held online through telehealth. Medicare and other insurers are covering individual Telehealth therapy sessions. Any person who has Parkinson’s Disease is invited to participate. Contact us.

YES! Medicare is covering telehealth speech therapy!

Great news for Medicare patients who have had to put speech therapy on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now allows telehealth services to Medicare Part B (outpatient) beneficiaries provided by speech-language pathologists.

The Sound Center, Inc., offers high-quality telehealth services and we are thrilled that CMS is covering speech and voice services for Medicare beneficiaries. We look forward to helping those who have had their treatment interrupted get back on track. New patients are also welcome.

Please contact us for more information.

For further reading, see the CMS press release.

 

 

Focus on Your Voice

World Voice Day

It’s World Voice Day! The theme this year is “Focus on Your Voice” and in the midst of the quarantine, you may find that you are using your voice more than usual on video conference meetings and phone calls. How is it holding up? Here are a few ideas to help you get your voice ready before your next meeting:

  1. Stay hydrated and have water nearby
  2. Warm up your voice.
  3. Move! Stretch and exercise to get your blood flowing and breath moving.
  4. Sit tall. Arrange your environment so you don’t have to slump to see your computer screen.
  5. Schedule vocal breaks
If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the above tips, including vocal warm-up ideas, contact us to request your copy of Top 5 Ways to Prepare for a Videoconference.

Many organizations are marking World Voice Day in amazing and creative ways. Check out these resources:

 

Stuck at home? Make the most of it!

Your time is precious and this is a perfect opportunity for improvement

 

We have 30-min and 45-min remote sessions on presentation skills, voice and speech improvement, foreign accent reduction, and more.

The sessions are one-on-one with our senior instructor over phone or computer.

If you are a new client, you might get your first session for free (we give away one free session every week!)

Schedule yours now!

 

 

The LOUD Crowd® is now at The Sound Center

Michelle Eppley opening LOUD Crowd® materials

On October 16, 2019, we will host our first LOUD Crowd® group for people with Parkinson’s Disease. We are eager to get going with all of the materials provided through the grant offered by Parkinson Voice Project. The LOUD Crowd® is a weekly group therapy program for maintenance of strong voice learned in the SPEAK OUT!® program for individuals. For more information please call us at 630-435-5622 or email us at info@thesoundcenter.com.

The Sound Center, Inc. Receives Grant to Help People with Parkinson’s Disease

The Sound Center, Inc. has received a grant from Parkinson Voice Project. This grant will help bring the SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® therapy programs to our area in the western suburbs of Chicago.

The Parkinson Voice Project’s mission is “to preserve the voices of individuals with Parkinson’s and related neurological disorders through intensive speech therapy, follow-up support, research, education, and community awareness.” This nonprofit organization, located in Richardson, Texas, aims to replicate their highly effective therapy programs throughout the world.

The therapy program involves two important steps: First, patients participate in SPEAK OUT!®,  an intensive one-on-one experience. Exercises for speech, voice and cognition are completed. Secondly, patients participate in the LOUD Crowd®. Participants work on their skills in a group setting. They also share information and experience camaraderie and accountability.

The Sound Center, Inc. is accepting clients who want to get started with the highly effective SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® therapy programs now! Contact us for more information or to schedule a session. We accept Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO. Other insurance providers may also offer benefits for this treatment. Give us a call at 630-435-5622 or send us a message here.

Your Voice May Identify Serious Health Problems

Researchers have found biomarkers in the voice that identify certain diseases, including mental health disorders, central nervous system problems, and even heart issues!

What can be detected in a voice? Emotions? Our physical state? Our level of confidence? Yes to all!

Makes sense, right? If we feel sanguine or sad, others know it after only hearing us speak a few words. Likewise, if we are worn out or wired, self-assured or filled with self-doubt, our voices tell the tale.

Voice Bio-WHAT?

But would you believe that researchers are exploring ways that our voices can indicate disorders and diseases? They have identified people with post-traumatic stress disorder, coronary artery diesase, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other problems. They use voice biomarkers, which are acoustic measures of the voice signal.

Blood, Urine and VOICE SAMPLE?

As you talk to Siri or Alexa, consider that someday your voice might be used as a key indicator of your health. Currently, you may use your voice to initiate web searches, operate devices, and connect with others. But imagine that for a routine physical, you have blood drawn, vitals taken, and finally, submit a voice sample for acoustic analysis!

Reality Check

I am an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) passionate about voice. Over the years, I have investigated a dizzying number of acoustic voice measures. But even with all of this data, we have yet to find definitive identifiers of specific voice disorders. However, SLPs are often the first professionals to suspect neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. We are experienced in listening to the voice characteristics that often accompany this disease: For instance, we may notice fast rushes of speech, reduced loudness, and reduced precision of articulation that are hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease. We have been trained to use our ears for this rather than acoustic analysis.

Therefore, I wonder about the measures used in the studies mentioned above. I will be diving deeper into the research, and will tell you more as I learn.

More Information for You

As a footnote, if you or a loved one has speech or voice concerns, contact us. We accept Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and are experts in treating many speech and voice problems, including Parkinson’s disease. Read more about Speak OUT!™, the highly effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease.