Mobile phone apps might help people with Parkinson’s regain their confidence communicating, according to research.
Dr. Roger Eglin, of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Creative Technologies, hopes to develop smartphone apps that allow people with Parkinson’s improve their speech, enabling them to be better understood by friends, family and healthcare workers. He was awarded a £35,000 innovation grant from the Parkinson’s UK, a leading research charity on Parkinson’s, to develop the apps.
According to research, speech problems affect 3/4 of the 120,000 people with Parkinson’s in the country, and problems communicating with others have a great effect on their quality of life.
“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,” said Dr. Eglin. “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. We will be testing our application with people with Parkinson’s at every stage of development to make sure it is effective and easy to use.”
The researchers are aiming to develop two key functions for the app: A feedback meter that will help them see how loud their speech is and indicate what they could do to be heard properly; and a training function to help them speak more loudly, making them easier to understand.
The app can also be used by healthcare professionals to remotely monitor their progress, making speech therapy more accessible and cheaper.