Speech therapy has exploded as a means to help people of all ages communicate better. While it has the connotation of improving actual speech, and it does, the field encompasses so much more than that. Speech therapy is indicated in situations where the client needs assistance in expressing himself and in navigating social settings. He also might need help in making oral movements that are preventing him for eating or speaking correctly.
The modalities used in Speech Language Pathology (SLP) are always being adapted to the way we live, and with the advent of digital and technological advances in every sphere, SLP is also being affected, creating new ways to help people with their speech therapy goals. These are some innovations in speech therapy being used in the field today.
This is an app created by The Learning Corp that aid in stroke and brain injury recovery. It’s easy to use and mobile, so patients can use it anytime, anywhere – on their own schedule, without the constant need for a therapist – hence the name, constant therapy. It creates a customized plan for each user that provides exercises for him to gain higher level skills in speech, memory, communication and language. It can also be adapted to each person’s recovery timeline, so you get different exercises depending on where you are at each point. The app can be used independently by patients or in conjunction with a practitioner who can provide guidance for using the app as part of a complete recovery program.
Besides this app, there are many online programs that offer similar, speech-based exercises for various speech issues for individuals to perform at home.
This out-of-the-box invention uses a retainer that goes on your tongue to replace cochlear implants. Yes, you heard that right – it goes into the mouth, but its purpose is to improve hearing. This is called “sensory substitution,” because the powerful brain is able to decode sensory stimulation from one source and interpret it as something else altogether. As far-fetched as it sounds, the idea is actually not so different than sight-impaired people learning how to read with Braille, feeling the pages and interpreting the raised dots as letters and words. Its much less invasive than cochlear implants, and the developers see it as and up-and-coming solution for the hearing-impaired population.
This neat idea is a pressure-vest that helps people with anxiety, ADHD, sensory issues and autism get through therapy sessions. The vest is inflatable, kind of like a life vest, but it expands to make a snug fit yet not become bulky and get in the way of the patient’s sessions. The makers say it decreases anxiety and aids in focus and concentration. It also includes a hood to block out light and other potential sensory distractions.
There are various types of robots in development to help people with communication issues to better express themselves. One example is KASPAR, a British humanoid, who interacts with autistic children to help them improve their communication skills.
The tech world continues to develop advanced systems to aid in bettering our lives, no less for speech therapy.