Most months I scan through journal articles to find a topic for our #SLPBloggers Research Tuesday posts (accessible here), but December 2013 is different. This month I happened upon a clinical gem mentioned on the Community pages of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Special Interest Group (SIG) 2 is a forum where Communication Disorders colleagues discuss topics related to Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders. The article I have chosen to review is actually a Master’s Thesis comparing different voice amplification devices to mitigate hypophonia experienced frequently by people with Parkinson’s disease.
Andreetta, Monika, “A Comparison of Speech Amplification Devices for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and Hypophonia” (2013). University of Western Ontario – Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 1365.
Pasted from <http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/1365/>
About the Study
Ms. Andreetta conducted objective and perceptual comparisons of seven of the most popular personal amplifiers currently on the market: ADDvox, ChatterVox, SoniVox, Spokeman, BoomVox, Oticon, and Voicette. I will leave the reader to access the details in her 300+ page Thesis via the link provided, but Ms. Andreetta’s study concluded that BoomVox and ChatterVox outperformed the other devices evaluated.
It was very interesting that the devices that performed most favorably on Speech-to-Noise Ratio, intensity measures, etc. fared less favorably among subjects on perceptual rating measures. Although BoomVox was the highest rated unit objectively, it was surpassed by other brands in the areas of comfort, appearance, speaker sound quality, power, and overall preference. Aesthetics and other non-performance outcome perceptions appeared to play a very important role in amplifier selection and utilization. Ms. Andreetta acknowledges that further research is needed to explore the ramifications of this discrepancy between performance and user preference and how it might impact the functionality of voice amplification for people with hypophonia due to Parkinson’s disease.
In my opinion, this is a powerfully relevant Thesis with potential for immediate clinical application. I have a passion for working with people with PD and Parkinson’s Plus disorders. Sometimes clients present for treatment many, many years post onset and/or with markedly decreased vocal intensity that does not respond well even to the most highly effective, evidence-based treatments, e.g. LSVT® LOUD. In those cases, voice amplification may help to improve quality of life. Unfortunately, they must choose from a confusing variety of voice amplifiers currently on the market. Ms. Andreetta has provided a wonderful comparison that can help us guide our clients toward selection of an effective and personally compatible tool to improve social interactions and expression of daily wants and needs.
Kudos to you for a job well done, Ms. Andreetta!
Cynthia “Cyndee” Williams Bowen, MS, CCC-SLP owns Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in Clearwater, FL. She provides quality, creative, collaborative treatment to adults and adolescents with communication, swallowing, Parkinson’s, and related disorders. She is a certified provider of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment® LOUD.