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Speech-language alumna creates online help for Parkinson’s patients


Hannah Grassie
Hannah Grassie

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and probably no one in the country is observing it in a more dramatic way than ACU alumna Hannah (Orozco ’08) Grassie.

On April 1 – no fooling – Hannah launched a private telemedicine practice to offer one-on-one therapy sessions with PD patients via a confidential video conference. Hannah’s office will be in the home she shares with her husband, Jason Grassie (’08), an employee of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Hannah earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from ACU in 2008 and met Jason when both were students.They were married in 2010 at The Grace Museum and have lived in Washington the past nine years.

Hannah’s introduction to Parkinson’s disease came in 2012 when, as a speech-language pathologist, she received a referral to evaluate and treat a patient with PD who had experienced recent changes in his symptoms. Turns out, the patient had more questions than Hannah had answers. That led Hannah to realize that she didn’t have to settle for being one or the other – a clinician working with patients or a researcher learning more about the disease.

“This is when my focus began to shift,” Hannah said. “I started immediately pursuing a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease in order to be a more informed clinician and an asset to the PD community.”

That led to her creating The Parkinson’s Report, “Gathering information about Parkinson’s disease can be overwhelming,” she notes. “The Parkinson’s Report simplifies that process. Our mission and design is to demonstrate a collaborative effort to consolidate resources for you and to keep it fresh!”

The longer Hannah got into her association with the Parkinson’s community, the better known she became. After graduating from Abilene Christian, Hannah earned a master’s degree from the University of Tulsa and her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. For two years, she led a Parkinson’s support group at a retirement center in Virginia and currently volunteers with the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area.

She also is in her third year volunteering with TIPS for Parkinson’s, an event held in Washington, D.C., each May to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Hannah also is certified with two evidence-based interventions for people with Parkinson’s called SPEAK OUT!® and LSVT LOUD®.

Now, Hannah is expanding her online presence with her new telemedicine venture. Currently, she is getting referrals for people in the Washington, D.C., and Virginia area but wants to expand, especially into Delaware and Maryland. To date, telemedicine in Hannah’s field has been used more to treat children in rural areas. Patients in urban areas with access to transportation are more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar clinic, but telemedicine is growing in popularity.

“We’re trending in that direction,” Hannah said.

Hannah has found among the Parkinson’s disease community a group of welcoming people with a lot of courage and positivity. There are dark moments and dark places in healthcare, Hannah said, but connecting with the Parkinson’s community has brought an unexpected light.

“I found something I’m very passionate about,” she said.

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