Smartphone Apps Could Help Parkinson's Sufferers With Speech

By Sam Gibbs on at

We're living longer than ever, but neurological diseases such as Parkinson's Disease still take their toll on society. Around three-quarters of those with Parkinson's in the UK suffer from speech problems. Boffins from the University of Portsmouth want to use smartphone apps to help them be better understood.

Dr. Eglin, senior lecturer in the Department of Creative Technologies at Portsmouth University, has been awarded a £35,000 grant from Parkinson's UK to develop a basic mobile phone app into something useful. Their goal is to provide something that those living with Parkinson's can use to be better understood in the wider world. Dr. Eglin said:

"Many people with Parkinson’s already have and use mobile phones, making them a low-cost, simple and effective way for helping people improve their own speech. We’ve already developed a basic mobile phone application to improve speech, but it needs to be further improved and tailored specifically for people with Parkinson’s."

"Speech therapy can help, but speech therapists have limited time and resources, so simple mobile phone applications that people can use in their everyday life offer exciting potential to help tackle speech problems.

Their aim is to develop an app that aids in speech therapy. For instance, a feedback meter that could give patients information on how loud they're being compared to background noise, aiding them in being heard, along with voice coaching to help them be understood. Therapists will be able to monitor the app remotely, giving them an indication on how the patient is progressing with the therapy, speeding their efforts.

Parkinson's Disease was recently thrust back into the spotlight thanks to a fund raising campaign from Michael J Fox, who's one of the most high-profile Parkinson's suffers, and Nike. Smartphone apps have been used for all sorts of great things, mainly focussed on connecting people -- let's hope the same can be done for those who need social connection more than the rest of us.

Image credit: Wikipedia