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Scenes from the Department of Communicative Disorders

Leslie Mahler               


Leslie Mahler graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a dual doctoral degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and Neuroscience in 2006. Dr. Mahler earned two additional graduate degrees after receiving her bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1975; a master's degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of the Pacific - Stockton, CA in 1977, and a master's of business administration from Drake University in Des Moines, IA in 1987. Dr. Mahler joined the faculty in Communicative Disorders at URI in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012. She had over 30 years of clinical experience working primarily with adults with neurological disorders prior to joining the faculty at URI.

Dr. Mahler is actively involved in clinical research at URI investigating the efficacy of voice, speech and swallow treatment in Parkinson's disease, stroke and Down syndrome and has made numerous presentations at national and international conferences. She is a certified clinician in the LSVT(R) LOUD, an efficacious treatment approach for improving voice and speech function for people with Parkinson disease. She is also the principal investigator on a multidisciplinary research project with Nutrition and Food Science and Kinesiology examining longitudinal changes in people with chronic neurological diagnoses such as acquired brain injury, stroke and Parkinson disease.

Dr. Mahler's current research interests are in the area of behavioral treatment of motor speech disorders following stroke and for individuals with Parkinson disease and Down syndrome translating principles of neuroplasticity into clinical practice to improve treatment outcomes. She is the principal investigator and faculty mentor for the LOUD Crowd (a group for people with Parkinson disease) and the Gateway Cafe (an interdisciplinary group for people with acquired brain injuries).

In addition to research and teaching, Dr. Mahler was one of the founding members of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program and serves on its Executive Committee. She is also vice-chair of the Governor's Permanent Advisory Commission on Traumatic Brain Injuries and serves of the board of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. Dr. Mahler participates on the National Parkinson Foundation's forum serving as an expert to answer questions about communication, speech, cognitive, and swallowing deficits related to Parkinson disease.

Personal Statement: One of my goals for teaching at the University of Rhode Island is to combine my experience as a hospital-based speech-language pathologist with clinical research to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral treatment for adults with motor speech and voice disorders and long-term effects of chronic neurological conditions. It is critically important to bridge academic and clinical teaching to train students to be speech-language pathologists and provide services to people with communication deficits in our community that would not otherwise be available.

Dr. Mahler teaches courses in cognitive disorders, voice disorders, dysphagia, medical speech language pathology, neuroethics, and phonetics and coordinates an introductory neuroscience course in the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program.

Courses taught:

  • CMD 273 Phonetics
  • CMD 492 Special Problems in Communicative Disorders
  • CMD 560 Voice Disorders
  • CMD 571 Medical Speech-Language Pathology
  • CMD 580 Motor Speech Disorders
  • CMD 581 Dysphagia
  • CMD 583 Acquired Cognitive Communication Disorders
  • CMD 598 Special Problems in Communicative Disorders
  • CMD 599 Master's thesis Research in Communicative Disorders
  • NEU 503 Introduction to Neuroscience
  • NEU 504 Ethics in Neuroscience
  • NEU 591 Special Projects in Neuroscience
  • NEU 599 Master's Thesis Research in Neuroscience
  • NEU 699 Doctoral Dissertation Research in Neuroscience

Selected Publications:

Spielman, J.O., Ramig., L.O., Mahler, L.A., Halpern, A., & Gavin, W.J. (2007). Effects of an

extended version of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment on Voice and Speech in Parkinson’s disease. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology,16, 95-107.


Mahler, L., Ciucci, M., Ramig, L., & Fox, C. (2007). Swallowing problems in Parkinson’s

disease. In Trail, M., Protos, E., & Lai, E. (Eds). Neurorehabilitation in Parkinson’s

disease: An evidence based treatment model. SLACK Inc. Professional Book Division,

Thorofare, NJ.


Mahler, L., Ciucci, M., Ramig, L., & Fox, C. (2008). Swallowing problems in Parkinson’s

disease. In Trail, M., Protos, E., & Lai, E. (Eds). Neurorehabilitation in

Parkinson’s disease: An evidence based treatment model. SLACK Inc. Professional Book Division, Thorofare, NJ.


Mahler, L., Ramig, L.O., Fox, C. (2009). Intensive voice treatment (LSVT® LOUD) for

dysarthria secondary to stroke. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 17(4), 165-182.


Spielman, J., Mahler, L., Halpern, A., Gilley, P., Klepitskaya, O., and Ramig. L. (2011).

Intensive Voice Treatment (LSVT(R)LOUD) for Parkinson's disease following Deep Brain

Stimulation of the Subthalamic Nucleus. Journal of Communication Disorders, 44, 688-700.  


Mahler, L. & Jones, H.N. (2012). Intensive treatment of dysarthria in two adults with

Down syndrome. Developmental Neurorehabilitation,15, 44-53.


Mahler, L. & Ramig, L.O. (2012). Intensive voice treatment of dysarthria

secondary to stroke. Journal of Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 26, 681-694.


Jones, H. N., Crisp, K.D., Moss, T., Strollo, K., Robey, R., Sank, J., Canfield, M., Case, L.E.,

Mahler, L. A., Kravitz, R., & Kishnani, P.S. (2014). Effects of respiratory muscle training (RMT) in children with infantile-onset Pompe disease and respiratory muscle weakness.

Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 7(3), 255-265.


Taetzsch, A., Quintanilla, D., Maris, S., Letendre, J., Picard, A., Mahler, L. Xu, F, Delmonico,

M. & Lofgren, I. (2015). Impact of nutrition and physical activity intervention on

diet quality in community dwelling obese women. Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging.


Xu, Furong, Letendre, J., Bekke, J., Beebe, N., Mahler, L.A., Lofgren, I., & Delmonico, M.  (2015). Impact of a program of Tai Chi plus behaviorally-based dietary weight loss on physical functioning and coronary heart disease risk factors: A community-based study in obese older women.  Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2155-.



The Department of Communicative Disorders is pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Crais, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will be our first guest speaker of the 2015-2016 academic year. The title of her talk is "Intervention for Children from Birth to Five with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Please join us.
Her talk will take place on Monday, October 5th from 7-9 pm in CBLS 100.


Congratulations are in order to our graduates


Welcome to new and returning students


Orientation details for graduate students announced


New professor joins faculty in CMD


M.S. program re-accreditation details


Leslie Mahler featured as one of URI's Big Thinkers