Updated: Sep 29, 2020
It can be hard for a busy clinician to keep up to date with new apps. Technology moves so fast! We’ve been doing some of the groundwork for you.
April is Parkinson's Awareness month so we have compiled a list of the speech therapy apps we find most useful for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
We have chosen apps that focus on 3 of the main areas that clinicians who work with individuals with Parkinson’s Disease will typically be addressing in therapy: rate control, vocal loudness and swallowing.
The apps may also be of benefit to individuals who have what are often referred to as the Parkinson’s Plus conditions; Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). To view the apps listed below on the AppStore, simply press/click the title of the app.
Clients with Parkinson’s Disease often speak too quietly and have difficulties communicating effectively as a result. Many will need intensive voice therapy such as the evidence-based Lee Silverman Voice Therapy (LSVT). Some clients especially those who have previously completed LSVT may benefit from a visual representation of how softly or loudly they are speaking in order to help them to maintain therapy gains / a louder voice
Unfortunately this app does not provide visual feedback on vocal loudness unlike the LSVT Companion Software (for use in LSVT sessions). The app provides some education on what clients could achieve by completing the LSVT training. It also allows certified LSVT clinicians to create digital homework logs to track patient/client progress through LSVT Loud Therapy.
Loud & Clear addresses the specific changes in a person’s voice that Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can cause. Its protocol leads the person with Parkinson’s through warm-ups and exercises to help them recalibrate their voice in 20-minute sessions. The app is not intended to replace voice treatment from a Speech Language Pathologist/ Speech & Language Therapist. It is best used as a companion-piece for individual’s with Parkinson’s who are currently in voice treatment or have recently completed a voice therapy such as LSVT or Speak Out.
Speech Prompts measures volume and visually represents it with a rising and falling traffic light colour block (yellow, green and red). One of the great things about this app is that you can adjust what is considered an acceptable volume range and choose where each level starts and ends. You can choose a bear graphic if using the app with young children or emoticons or plain words for older clients.
This free app allows the patient/client to video-record themselves saying words or phrases, reading aloud or having a conversation. It has a volume target zone which turns green when the person is loud enough to reach it. The downside of this app is that you really do have to speak very loud to reach the green target zone. However, it is good for encouraging increased vocal effort and the video-recording can be used for client feedback on articulation, intelligibility and facial movement.
As Parkinson’s Disease advances, the patient/client’s voice may become monotone and their articulation may become festinant and less intelligible as a result. The person may start slowly but then quicken near the end of the sentence or longer word.
Speech Pacesetter offers visual pacing supports to help clients who have imprecise articulation and a fast rate of speech. It includes built-in phonemically balanced reading passages (The Rainbow Passage, My Grandfather, Comma Gets A Cure…) and allows the user to store their own custom passages.
The app highlights each syllable or word and the speed at which the visual cue moves can be adjusted depending on the client’s individual needs.Speech Pacesetter Pro effectively helps clients make progress on their rate of speech and intelligibility.
Watch Speech Pacesetter in action.
Conversation Paceboard is designed to help individuals with imprecise articulation and a fast speaking rate to pace their speech and improve their intelligibility in conversation.
Unlike traditional pacing boards, Conversation Paceboard offers the user additional visual cues and feedback to help them to pace their speech as well as over 100 conversation questions to get the conversation started.
Watch Conversation Paceboard in action:
Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) is an established speech and language therapy technique which helps people to speak more slowly. It works by enabling someone to hear their own speech after a brief time delay, causing the speaker to slow down. A headset is needed to use this app.
According to the developers, research has shown that DAF will be of benefit to approximately a third of people who have a stammer or Parkinson’s.
AlphaTopics includes a topic board, an alphabet chart and a white board. The alphabet board can certainly be of benefit to individuals with Parkinson’s Disease especially those with more severe speech difficulties who need to slow their rate of speech.
Pointing to the first letter of every word you say helps slow rate thereby improving intelligibility. The alphabet board can also speak the letters aloud giving the listener an extra hint.
We automatically swallow our saliva up to a few times every minute and we usually are not consciously aware we are doing it. In Parkinson’s Disease, the swallowing of saliva becomes infrequent and as a result it can build-up in the mouth and the person may drool.
Swallow Prompt reminds the person to swallow and may even help retrain the more automatic swallowing of saliva by beeping or vibrating at set intervals. Use this app with cordless in-ear headphones for a discreet solution.
The Dysphagia app is an excellent tool for teaching patients and family members about normal swallowing and swallowing impairment. As clinicians we sometimes forget that the average person does not know about swallowing. Helping others understand via the use of visuals can be invaluable.
We hope that you have found our speech therapy apps for Parkinson’s disease guide useful. Spread the word by sharing this post.