SpeechVive: Reviving Speech of Patients with Parkinson's Disease
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Steve Mogensen, President & CEO
For Steve Mogensen, a veteran in the medical device industry, it was a fortuitous encounter with Dr. Jessica Huber that led to the inception of their novel company, SpeechVive. While much of any businessperson’s attention is focused on bringing new ideas to market or making strategically targeted decisions, there are some occasions where fate takes a hand. When funding for a university incubator fell through, Mogensen, who was the managing director of the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue University at that time, had the opportunity to license one of the many technologies coming out of Purdue’s vast research and development network. At the same time, Dr. Huber, a Ph.D. in speech science, was performing a clinical trial involving patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to evaluate whether PD patients respond to the Lombard effect: the involuntary reflex people have which increases their vocal effort when speaking in a loud or noisy environment. For example, everyone talks more loudly when in a noisy restaurant. The meeting between Mr. Mogensen and Dr. Huber set the groundwork for SpeechVive. Together they brought forth a revolutionary approach to change the lives of people with PD as well as the lives of the people who love and care for them when confronted with speech and communication disorders.
Mogensen highlights that when most people think of PD, they think about the tremors usually seen in the hands. However, one of the most common symptoms of this progressive disease is a loss of communication due to the patient’s inability to regulate their speech. Hypophonia—or the tendency of speaking softly, will affect 89 percent of people with PD. While many patients develop voice difficulties that involve reduced speech intensity along with a breathy, whispery, or hoarse voice, some of them also face articulation difficulties, including slurred speech and fast speech rates. “Due to these medical conditions, most people with PD are talked-over or interrupted, often leading them to withdraw from communication exchanges, which eventually lead to social isolation,” comments Mogensen. Interestingly, the patient rarely perceives a speech problem and tends to think that others may have a hearing problem. Often it is the spouse or care partner that is the first person to notice a declining quality and volume of speech. Without an effective solution, the care partner may become apathetic rather than supportive and encouraging to the patient. Many PD patients have already attempted traditional speech therapy only to drop out due to the demands and highly intensive regimens, or see the results wane over time as required voice exercises are not maintained due to disease progression and/or cognitive decline often associated with PD.
SpeechVive, a wearable device that delivers an immediate, effective speech and communication improvements for people with PD-related speech impairments by using the simple principle of the Lombard effect
SpeechVive, the novel over-the-ear medical device, aims to help people with PD-related speech impairments by using the simple principle of the Lombard Effect. The device detects patients’ speech and delivers a sound stimulus into the ear triggering an involuntary reflex known as the Lombard Effect, which causes the patient to speak louder and more clearly. Mogensen states, “Our non-invasive device makes it possible for patients with Parkinson’s to communicate easily.” Additionally, SpeechVive is calibrated to a wearer’s speech profile by a trained speech pathologist as part of a routine speech therapy visit or remotely by one of the company’s technicians. A significant travel burden to the patient and care partner is reduced by eliminating multiple visits to a speech therapist. Additionally, remote programming of the SpeechVive device in the privacy and comfort of the patient’s home is fast and convenient for the patient and care partner.
SpeechVive is the only device of its kind. It has multi-site, peer-reviewed, published clinical trials, which demonstrate the benefits to patients with moderate to severe speech impairments. SpeechVive is fully covered for veterans receiving VA benefits for their PD-related speech impairments, as diagnosed by a VA speech pathologist. The device is easy to use and was designed with input from PD patients to look much like a Bluetooth device. It is large enough to be easily placed on the ear during the day when in use, and when not in use, it is placed into a charging station. The charging station has an easy-access lid, and the device sits in a cradle connection rather than needing a USB connection because people with Parkinson’s often have trouble with manual dexterity tasks.
Along with this unique non-invasive medical device, the company also provides clinical and educational support for healthcare clinicians involved in the care of PD patients, the patients themselves, and those who care for them. “It is our mission to proactively help clinicians or patients when they call. The goal is to make SpeechVive available and affordable for the masses,” says Mogensen. SpeechVive is working with Medicare, private, and commercial insurance carriers to ensure greater insurance coverage for the SpeechVive device. Mogensen concludes, “SpeechVive has applied for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code, and we are hopeful for approval in mid-2020, allowing insurance claims to be approved in an expeditious manner allowing more PD patients to benefit from this novel approach to speech issues.”
Description Offers a non-invasive, over-the-ear device that helps patients with Parkinson’s disease regain their voice by using the simple principle of the Lombard effect. The device detects patients’ speech and delivers a sound stimulus into the ear, which triggers an involuntary reflex. The patients’ reaction is to speak louder and more clearly. Additionally, SpeechVive is calibrated to a wearer’s speech profile by a trained speech pathologist as part of a routine speech therapy visit or remotely by a company technician. The clinical trials and utilization of focus groups has resulted in a product that avoids the issues so often associated with other medical devices. For example, users do not need to worry about changing batteries because the device has a rechargeable battery, much like a cell phone
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