Speech and communication skills are the way in which we create and develop relationships. We use these skills to convey, express and share our ideas and emotions with each other. However, communication and speech can be impediments for many around us.
Speech Disorders are quite common in adults and children. Individuals with speech, language and communication disorders may have a multitude of difficulties like problems in understanding, talking, speaking, have a hoarse or raspy voice, stuttering and problems in reading and writing.
Speech Impairment is listed as the fifth highest occurring disability in India with a prevalence of 7%.
It is also reported that one in every ten school children can have a speech disorder.
Picture for representation only. Source: Unsplash
Additionally, 90% of children with identified speech and language needs can have long-term difficulties.
Fortunately, technological advancements offer promising ways to enhance intervention and treatment of speech and language impairments. Speech-Language Therapy is a niche science which provides treatment, support and care for individuals with speech and language problems.
Here are just a few strides the world of speech treatment and therapy is making through the technology funnel and how it’s giving patients the much-needed support.
Improved Diagnosis of Speech Disorders with Tech Innovations
Innovative technology in the form of apps and software has enabled diagnosis of various speech disorders like Speech Language Delays, Voice Disorders, Stuttering, Unclear speech and more.
‘Speech Doctor’ is an app that enables easy detection of speech delays in children. This easy-to-use app has a set of research-based Yes/No Questions.
This is the first speech-screening app developed in India is available on Android, iOS and Alexa. Amazon recently awarded a special prize to Speech Doctor for the innovation for Amazon Echo Dot (Alexa).
‘Voice and Speech Systems’ has created various products for speech and voice diagnosis and therapy. Vagmi, Audiolab, and Speech Science Labs are their noteworthy software.
‘Computerised Assessment of Articulation’ has been developed by All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore. This enables identification of processes which cause speech deviances in children.
Tech to Help Autism and Cerebral Palsy
Autism is a social communication disorder which hampers the communication skills. Many children on the Autism Spectrum have speech and language delays, while some others are non-verbal. Children affected by Cerebral Palsy, have poor neuro-motor control and have difficulty in talking.
AAC or Augmentative and Alternative Communication is a method of communication used to supplement speech.
Many technology-based AAC tools have been developed and are being used widely by therapists and patients.
Speech Technology for Children with Delays
Traditional speech therapy has evolved. Technology has enabled the use of apps, websites and e-books. Developers of Early Word Deck, an Indian Speech Therapy app which teaches early stage vocabulary to children has seen a great response from its users.
The Internet has enabled easy access to world-class research studies and information for parents of children with delays. Be it for using games for children or to maintain records, speech therapists use computers and tablets to assist them.
There are also some electronic devices which have been designed for speech therapy. One such is Speechify by Innoflaps. This is a battery-operated device which assists in communication and teaches children different vocabulary concepts. Technology has even helped in better tracking of Speech Therapy procedures.
Bringing Speech Therapy to your home via Telepractice
Speech Therapists are embracing technology to improve speech development and brain recovery too. The team at 1SpecialPlace is giving patients the feeling of having a speech therapist in their homes. Through their innovative online virtual platform, patients can meet speech therapists to get their problems treated.
This technology is helpful for children with Speech Delays, Autism, Hearing Loss, Cerebral Palsy, Stammering and Unclear speech. This is also great for stroke victims, some of whom might develop Aphasia or the loss of speech due to brain damage. Doctors and Therapists are constantly using such a platform to improve treatments and recovery levels for aphasics.
Technology has made Speech Therapy Fun for children
Tablets and computers have become common in the field as speech professionals use apps to work with kids and make speech therapy activities and exercises fun and engaging. Technology has also been used as a tool to encourage communication in autistic toddlers.
1SpecialPlace makes customised e-worksheets and slideshows which prompt children to talk better. This way, not only does speech therapy become more engaging but also quite effective as kids can practice their skills with these tools at home.
Tech-based Speech Therapy in Schools
Picture for representation only. Source: Pixabay
School is the perfect institution where speech therapy can be formally provided to those students who need it. Telepractice or Online Speech Therapy tries to overcome the shortage of Speech Therapists in schools.
Students in need can avail high-quality online therapy from the school over the internet. Such sessions involve the teachers and parents in the programmes which aim for continued holistic success.
Clinical software for enhanced patient treatments
Thanks to the advent of cloud-based technologies, more and more doctors and therapists are opting for patient management software which enhances their scope of patient treatment. TheraKonnect is India’s first software for therapists, provides all tools to manage onsite patients and even serves patients online.
Technology, overcoming barriers
Technology has not only innovated options for treatment of speech disorders but has also helped in overcoming barriers of accessibility and affordability. It is the application of technological innovations, which are helping speech therapists and doctors to make ground developments in the treatments they offer.
Today, we are not just using technology, we are living it. It would be wisest to embrace the potential benefits of new technologies in treating speech and communication disorders and march towards a smarter tomorrow.
(Written by Pratiksha Gupta and Edited by Shruti Singhal)