New technology helps Parkinson's patients speak louder

Uploaded by PurdueUniversity on 04.08.2009

>> Purdue University speech, language and hearing researcher,
Jessica Hubert, has devoted her career
to helping Parkinson's patients speak louder
and articulate better.
>> About 1.5 million people
in the U.S. have Parkinson's disease and it's one
of the most common degenerative diseases of neurological origin.
Speech problems are a big problem with Parkinson's disease
in fact a study done in 1978 showed that about 89 percent
of people with Parkinson's disease will eventually develop
voice problems and about 45 percent will eventually develop
problems with articulation or clarity.
People with Parkinson's disease can speak louder;
they can speak more clearly but often they need to be cued
to do so, so you have to tell them to do it in some way.
The clink of glasses, soft music,
clattering of silverware, people murmuring.
Background noise causes us
to automatically adjust the volume of our voices.
This is known as the Lombard Effect,
a reflex in which people automatically speak louder
in the presence of background noise.
Dr. Hubert came up with a device
that helps Parkinson's patients speak louder.
The device recreates a natural environmental cue
to speak more loudly for the individual
by introducing ambient noise into the patient's ear
so the patient automatically speaks louder.
The first device was built by Derek Tully and Scott Kepner,
engineers in the speech language and hearing sciences department.
The design was improved and refined by engineers Jim Jones
and Kirk Foster in the Purdue Weldon School
of Biomedical Engineering.
Jim and Kirk built the prototype
which was implemented with patients.
>> They wear this, it goes on the throat
and as they talk the vibration
from their speech triggers this accelerometer and it converts it
to an electrical signal that triggers the sound play.
>> This is an open ear piece that is connected to a device
by clear tubing and its placed in the ear
and it's an open device so that they can still hear all the
ambient sound around them and someone that's talking
to them it doesn't block their hearing.
They don't realize they're not speaking loud enough
and this helps them speak loud enough so
and every social interaction is a little better,
so they learn to like it.
What we didn't expect how much their caregivers like it.
>> Patient's often come in to clinics is because they think
that everyone else can't hear.
So their spouse has a hearing loss and they need to be tested
for a hearing loss but really it's the person
with Parkinson's disease not talking loud enough.
The device is a way to remind them, it cues them outside
of the therapy room to be louder.
So they wear these when they go to church or play cards
with their friends or have dinner with their spouse and all
of these everyday activities that happen
in our life become cues to talk louder and they get trained
in their everyday life to talk louder.
>> I was the first Parkinson's patient to use this device
and really it's been very rewarding to use it,
it sound just like all the people talking at a restaurant
and you have a tendency...I don't know if you realize it
but if you're in a crowd of people you have a tendency
to raise your voice when you hear all this talking
and all the noise.
If there's noise around you'll raise your voice automatically.
>> The next step in making the device available
for Parkinson's patients includes developing it
through the Purdue research foundations,
office of technology commercialization
and continuing the research with patients
in the university's Department of Speech, Language
and Hearing Sciences and the Department
of Communication Disorders and Sciences
at the University at Buffalo.
Dr. Hubert's research group is planning to set
up a satellite laboratory at the Rehabilitation Institute
of Indianapolis as well.
Funding for this project came
from the NIH's National Institute for Deafness
and other Communication Disorders, National Institutes
of Health Support Indiana CTSI and a CAT grant
to the Regenstrief Center for Health Care Engineering
from the state of Indiana.