Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Post: Interesting Biofeedback Study

I was recently contacted by fellow BU alumni Tara McAllister Byun about a study she is leading in the NYC area. Rather than report on the information myself, I invited her to write a guest post, and she was happy to do so! I hope you find this of interest, especially if you are in the New York area.

Using biofeedback technology for treatment-resistant /r/ errors: Call for participants in NYC area

Most children’s speech sound errors will resolve, either spontaneously or through intervention, by nine years of age. However, nearly every SLP has encountered a client whose /r/ or /s/ errors simply won’t go away, no matter what tricks the clinician tries. In fact, an estimated 30% of children with SSD continue to exhibit errors affecting sibilant and rhotic sounds at 9 years of age, and 9% show these errors from 12-18 years and beyond. (1) At present, there is no gold standard of intervention for these cases of residual or persistent speech sound errors, which have been described as “one of the most neglected research areas in speech therapy.” (2)

The Biofeedback Intervention for Speech Lab at NYU is researching the possibility that technologically-enhanced intervention could offer a solution for these persistent speech errors. Specifically, we are looking at visual biofeedback therapy, which uses instrumentation to create a real-time representation of some aspect of speech that is difficult to perceive under ordinary circumstances. We show the child a real-time display of the acoustic signal of his/her own speech, as well as a visual model representing correct articulation of the target sound. The child can then modify his/her own output to achieve a closer match with the visual model. A number of preliminary studies have demonstrated the exciting potential for visual biofeedback intervention to eliminate residual errors that have not responded to traditional forms of therapy. (3) However, there is a need for larger studies to demonstrate that biofeedback is an efficient as well as effective form of intervention.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health, my lab is running a study that will systematically compare visual biofeedback versus traditional intervention methods for children with residual /r/ errors. We are currently looking for children in the New York City area, ages 9-14, with treatment-resistant /r/ errors. Children who participate in our study will receive 10 weeks of free biofeedback intervention at NYU. In addition, clinicians who refer participants to our study will be eligible for free participation in a continuing education seminar on biofeedback intervention. If you may be interested in referring a participant and would like to learn more about the study, click here.

If you would like to learn more about biofeedback in general, click here.

1 Lewis & Shriberg, 1994.
2 Gibbon & Paterson, 2006.
3 Shuster, Ruscello, & Smith, 1992; Shuster, Ruscello, & Toth, 1995; McAllister Byun & Hitchcock, 2012.


Thanks for the information, Tara! Please share this information with anyone you think might benefit.

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