SpeechEasy Device On Stuttering Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial | 43347
Otolaryngology: Open Access
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SpeechEasy is an electronic device used to treat stuttering, similar in appearance to a hearing aid. However, rather than amplifying
sound, SpeechEasy device alters the way its users perceive their own speech, so that they hear their voice at a slight time delay and
at a different pitch. This effect is called altered auditory feedback (AAF), i.e., the use of a digital signal processor to produce a second
altered signal using one’s own speech. The alteration to the auditory feedback creates the illusion of a second speaker producing
similar linguistic material, emulating choral speech. Previous studies, besides their largely different purposes and methodology,
appear to agree that AAF can decrease the number of stuttering events without changing naturalness characteristics of speech
production. However, substantial variability is found across studies regarding degree and pattern of benefit. The present study is
a randomized clinical trial, undertaken to verify the effectiveness of SpeechEasy device on stuttering treatment in comparison to
behavioral techniques. Two groups participated: Group 1 consisted of 11 people who stutter including 10 males and 1 female aged
21-42 years (M=30.0). Group 2 consisted of seven people who stutter including six males and one female, aged 20-50 years (M=35.6).
Participants in Group 1 were fit with a SpeechEasy and were not given any additional training (i.e., supplementary fluency enhancing
techniques). Participants used the device daily for six months. Participants in Group 2 received treatment in the form of a 12-week
fluency promotion protocol with techniques based on both fluency shaping and stuttering modification. There were no statistically
significant differences (p>0.05) between groups in participants’ stuttered syllables following treatment. That is both therapeutic
protocols achieved approximately 40% reduction in number of stuttered syllables with no significant relapse after three or six months
post-treatment. The results suggest that the SpeechEasy device can be a viable option for the treatment of stuttering.
Claudia Regina Furquim de Andrade is a Speech, Language and Hearing Therapist. She has completed her under graduation course at the Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil in 1979. She has earned a PhD in Linguistics from the University of São Paulo (1994). She is a Full Professor at the School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Brazil, since 2001. She has published 127 papers in indexed journals and 285 abstracts in conference proceedings. She has published 48 book chapters and 22 books and received 46 awards. She is the Director of Speech-Language and Hearing Science.