Speech Therapy Articulation Rehabilitation Project with University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield, Barnsley Hospital and Therapy Box worked together on a prototype app for use with clients in need of articulation rehabilitation. The resulting Articulation Forest app will provide greater independence to children and young people who are working towards clearer articulation. The automated evaluation tool will provide instant, automatic feedback, and articulation practice exercises can be built into a variety of fun games.
The University of Sheffield’s Catch team developed speech recognition software for people with dysarthria. They wanted to use take this property and tailor it into an application which would be able to help with articulation rehabilitation. With some changes to their software, they believed they could build a module which could listen to a dysarthric speaker practising a word or sound, then provide feedback on how closely the spoken word matched an ideal example. By receiving instantaneous feedback, a patient undergoing articulation rehabilitation, would be able to practice speech on their own with a significantly reduced risk of reinforcing bad habits. Therapy Box is a technical partner on this project to take the engine developed by University of Sheffield and to use it to develop a user-friendly iOS app.
Therapy Box built an iOS app in which users are able to train the app to recognise new sounds and words. Recognisable words can be built into articulation exercises, which are built as games, with a fun user interface, to feel less bothersome to the end user, and encourage ongoing engagement. The gamification leant itself particularly well to children requiring speech therapy practice so Therapy Box redeveloped the app's interface and added new games, exercises and settings to creat Articulation Forest, a new app due for a full commercial release in March 2018.
The app has been tested with children with hearing impairment and stroke survivors and their speech and language therapists. During the testing, therapists and their clients used the app as part of their usual treatment. The results of this testing have led to changes in the final version of the app to make it easier to use and provide a wider range of activities to practice.
The project has demonstrated the benefits of working closely with both speech and language therapists and their clients to improve the technology prior to it being launched to the wider public.
Meet the Team
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).