Research Finds Voice Assist May Improve Speech For Parkinson’s Patients

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Speech disorders are a common condition in patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, early research between Monash University and Ulster University found that voice assistive technologies such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa could potentially improve early speech and language therapies to help people with speech difficulties.

The study involved a survey of 290 participants from the UK living with Parkinson’s disease, with 79% indicating that they or others had noticed changes in their speech or voice due to symptoms of their disease. disease.

The study also found that 90% owned a voice-assisted device, with 71% indicating that they use it regularly, while 31% use the technology specifically to meet the needs associated with their Parkinson’s disease.

Of those 166 users, almost 55% said they sometimes, rarely, or never had to repeat themselves when using voice assist technology. When asked about changes in speech since they started using their devices, 25% of participants noticed that they didn’t have to repeat themselves as often and 15% felt their speech was clearer.

Some of the specific comments from participants included the use of voice assistive technology, which encouraged positive speaking behaviors such as “speak slowly and clearly” and “speak louder”.

“Voice assistive technology has been adopted by many individuals and households, both from a general day-to-day perspective but also now, as we have seen in research, in the form of assistive technology. people with speech difficulties, “University of Ulster speech and language therapy professor Orla Duffy said.

“Voice assistive technologies now have the ability to support future therapies and act as useful tools for speech-language pathologists, with the added benefit of being already present in the patient’s home. “

Although the researchers admitted that more research would be needed to test out-of-the-box voice assist technologies, they noted that the early results indicated a step in the right direction.

Roisin McNaney, a senior lecturer in the human-centered computing department in the faculty of information technology at Monash University, said the study demonstrated how the devices could help support future outcomes of the speech therapy.

“Early intervention in speech therapy is important in solving the communication problems associated with Parkinson’s disease, however, only 59% of people living with Parkinson’s disease in Australia have regular contact with a therapist,” he said. she declared.

“Limited access to clinical services and speech-language pathology is a major concern and we hope to address it through this research.

“By presenting our first findings on how assistive voice technologies can support speech therapy outcomes for people with Parkinson’s disease, we hope to be able to encourage the future use of voice assistive technologies by patients. speech-language pathologists in clinical settings to support patients. “

Meanwhile, a project led by the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Queensland has developed a national contact tracing web application that brings together current contact tracing alert locations across the country and makes available in one place via an interactive map. .

“The app provides a one-stop-shop to review COVID-19 exposure sites and exposure time as identified by health services,” ANU epidemiologist Dr Meru Sheel said. .

“Having a one-stop-shop can help speed up the contact tracing process for epidemiologists and create epidemic mud maps to help understand patterns of transmission. ”

Designed to be accessed on a desktop or smartphone, the app allows users to set up automatic alerts for specific locations, such as warning of new cases in a specific suburb or zip code, as well as receive a daily update of the situation. Users can also ask specific questions, such as the number of cases acquired locally in specific areas during a given time period.

According to Graham Williams, chief scientist at the ANU Software Innovation Institute, the technology developed for the app was designed to collect, store and share publicly available “postcode-level” data.

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