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Scenes from the Department of Communicative Disorders

Leslie Mahler               


Dr. Mahler joined the faculty at the University of Rhode Island in January 2007 after completing a dual doctorate in Speech and Hearing Sciences and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Since joining the faculty, she has focused her efforts on bridging classroom teaching and clinical teaching by maintaining an active clinical practice for research and treatment based on 23 years of experience as a medical speech-language pathologist. She incorporates research findings from her treatment studies and the literature into classroom teaching and applies theory taught in the classroom to evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of clients in the clinic.



Dr. Mahler’s research interests and publications are directed toward describing and treating motor speech disorders (dysarthria) to improve the quality of life for people with neurological diagnoses. Specifically, her research focuses on how principles of motor learning can be applied to the treatment of individuals with dysarthria secondary to neurological diagnoses such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, head injury, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy .Investigations of how well-defined behavioral interventions affect communication behaviors and whether there is a positive impact on communication effectiveness and efficiency can maximize quality of life for people with communication disorders.



Dr. Mahler’s teaching responsibilities include training undergraduate and graduate students in normal communication processes as a foundation for understanding communication disorders. The goal for the preparation of graduate students is to develop their clinical skills for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders as they prepare for careers in speech-language pathology. Her areas of expertise include motor speech disorders, voice disorders, swallowing disorders, acquired cognitive disorders, and medical speech-language pathology.


Personal Statement

My goal as a faculty member in CMD is to combine academic teaching with research and experiential learning in a clinical setting, building on my extensive clinical experience in hospital settings combined with expertise in treatment efficacy research. Toward this end, I have taken on clinical responsibilities in the areas of evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of adults with neurological disorders in the clinic and conduct ongoing treatment research. I am responsible for a communication group for people with Parkinson disease, the LOUD Crowd, and an interdisciplinary group for adults with acquired brain injury, the Gateway Cafe and Wellness Center. My expertise in the area of motor speech disorders has been recognized outside of the University of Rhode Island community. I have been invited to give national and international lectures on translating principles of neural plasticity to the treatment of motor speech disorders nationally and internationally. I am pleased to be able to share this expertise with URI students.

Courses taught:

  • CMD 273 Phonetics
  • CMD 492 Special Problems
  • CMD 560 Voice Disorders
  • CMD 565 Pre-Practicum
  • CMD 571 Medical Speech-Language Pathology
  • CMD 581 Dysphagia
  • CMD 583 Acquired Cognitive Communication Disorders
  • CMD 598 Special Problems
  • CMD 599 Masters Thesis
  • NEU 503 Introduction to the Neurosciences
  • NEU 501 Ethics in Neuroscience

Selected Publications:


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),



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

Intensive Voice Treatment (LSVT 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.


Book Chapters:


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, pp. 279-294.


Fox, C., Ramig, L., Sapir, S., Halpern, A., Petska, J., & Mahler, L., Farley, B. (2008). Voice and speech disorders in Parkinson’s disease and their treatment.. 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, pp. 297-307.


Ciucci, M., Mahler, L., & McFarland, D. (2011). Swallowing disorders in Parkinson’s disease. In Theodoros, D. & Ramig, L. (Eds), Communication and swallowing in Parkinson

disease (pp. 199-223). Oxford, England: Plural Publishing.



The local chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association, URISSLHA, will hold a meeting on Monday, October 27th at 7:15 in the Galanti Lounge of the main library (3rd floor). All students with interests in a career in speech-language pathology or audiology are encouraged to attend.


Amber D. Franklin, Assistant Professor at Miami University (Ohio), will be giving a talk titled, "Pronunciation Proficiency in Adult English Language Learners: What do we measure and how do we measure it?" on Thursday, October 23rd from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in CBLS 100. All students and faculty are invited to attend. Attendance is mandatory for graduate students in CMD.


Welcome to new and returning students


2014 NSSLHA meeting announced


Congratulations are in order


Leslie Mahler featured as one of URI's Big Thinkers