iPhone used to provide therapy for stutterers
31 January 2009
Scientists at the US Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a leading centre for stuttering research and treatment innovation, have completed successful trials using Apple's iPhone as a stuttering therapy tool to enhance the transfer of new fluency skills from the clinical setting into real-life situations.
The iPhone device was programmed at HCRI with a sophisticated voice monitoring system that evaluates and scores speech behaviours taught during stuttering therapy. When clients use the device during training in outside situations, such as in a shopping mall, restaurant or business setting, fluency measurements for each utterance are displayed on the iPhone screen. Having this data immediately available to stuttering therapy program participants makes speech practice more effective and helps improve the speed with which fluency results are achieved.
In addition, the iPhone records every speech sample in an onboard file for later transmission to HCRI. This information enables the institute's therapists to provide more detailed and precise training to clients, as they learn to apply new speech capabilities in everyday situations.
The iPhone has exceeded expectations during trials with stuttering therapy participants, according to HCRI Founder and President Dr Ronald L. Webster. Client scores in outside trials were similar to those made in the clinical environment, indicating that quality transfer of fluency skills was being attained.
"Our clients now have a dynamic, easy-to-use tool that can be used in virtually any setting to evaluate how well they are using newly learned fluency skills," Dr Webster said. "In addition, the device provides training feedback and performance data that were previously available only with our clinic-based computers."
Webster added that client responses during the trials, which were completed last week, have been extremely positive. He attributes the device's strong appeal to the fact that the iPhone is a practical and fun piece of technology to use for the advancement of stuttering treatment outcomes.
An estimated 66 million people worldwide suffer from the effects of stuttering, with three million living in the US, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Bookmark this page