This Wearable Device Can Improve Speech of People Living with Parkinson’s Disease

SpeechVive for Parkinsons
SpeechVive was created by Jessica Huber, a professor in Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (Image credit: Purdue University)

People afflicted with Parkinson’s disease usually develop speech impediment; their speech become quieter and less clear that before the disease affected them. In many cases, these people improve their speech with speech therapy. Now, Purdue University researchers have developed a wearable device that can help people with Parkinson’s speak louder and more clearly, by working on a natural reflex that aids in overcoming difficulties with speech.

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The device, dubbed SpeechVive, uses a reflex to improve communication. It plays noise in a user’s ear when they are talking, which elicits the reflex, resulting in speech that is automatically louder, clearer and lower, reports Purdue University.

“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, a professor in Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, who developed SpeechVive. “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.”

A man and a woman
Image credit: SpeechVive Inc.

More than 1 million people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases.

The device was recently commercialized by SpeechVive Inc. it is already being made available to patients using VA hospitals and through other venues.

“We are working to develop additional routes for individuals to obtain the device,” said Huber, who is also the associate dean for research in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences. “I enjoy developing and testing devices and therapies that can improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.”

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SpeechVive Inc is one of the companies selected for the Purdue Foundry’s Double Down Experiment, which consists of nine businesses ready to reach the next level with technologies designed to advance the world.