New device helps Parkinson’s patients speak more clearly

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder. People with PD may experience: Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands.

Many also tend to talk more quietly and speak less clearly than before they were affected by the disease. Sometimes speech therapy can help with this.

Now a device recently developed at Purdue University can automatically activate an internal mechanism in users that encourages them to speak louder and more intelligibly.

The SpeechVive device, an invention of Jessica Huber, a professor at Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, looks like a hearing aid. Unlike a hearing aid, though, it actually creates noise in the wearer’s ear when he or she is speaking. To overcome this seeming disturbance, humans naturally get louder and change their tonal frequencies so that they can be heard better. When the user is not speaking, but listening, the device stays quiet and doesn’t make it harder to understand others.

Here is the SpeechVive in action

“Since the wearable device elicits a reflex, the patient does not need to remember to use therapy techniques to communicate in everyday life,” said Jessica Huber, in a Purdue press release. “When people with Parkinson’s disease cannot be heard or understood, they withdraw from communication exchanges, leading to social isolation. This device makes it possible for patients to continue to communicate with their loved ones well into their disease.”

The SpeechVive was recently commercialized with Purdue’s help, and it is already being made available to patients using VA hospitals and through other venues.

If you would like to find out more about SpeechVive please check out their product page.

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