Communication is an essential part of the human experience. Being unable to do so rids a person of passing on information, expressing their ideas and feelings, and understanding others’ thoughts. Unfortunately, Medical News Today’s article on communication disorders reveals that about 5–10% of Americans experience difficulties communicating that prevent them from receiving, processing, sending, and comprehending different forms of information, such as concepts, graphic language, and speech.
Fortunately, speech language therapy is aiding people with communication disorders to identify and manage their conditions. Yet while traditional speech language therapy may involve speaking and repetition exercises, technology can drastically improve how patients and therapists approach and conduct it.
Why tech could be the future of speech language therapy
Although speech language therapy exists, not everyone has equal access to it. A report on communication challenges by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reveals that 75% of its member audiologists and 62% of speech-language pathologists have backlogs of children who weren’t referred to them during the pandemic.
Due to concerns about virus exposure, these children couldn’t start or follow up on their therapy. As a result, 34% of audiologists report seeing more with delayed hearing loss diagnosis, and 36% account for more children with untreated ear infections. Meanwhile, 84% of speech-language pathologists reveal more children with emotional or behavioral difficulties, and 79% recall more children with delayed language or diagnosed language disorders.
This is why technology can be the future of speech language therapy. It can improve children and adults’ access to therapy wherever they are. Moreover, technology can help adults and parents consult about the early warning signs of communication disorders they’ve observed in their children or themselves.
Technologies that can be the future of speech language therapy
Artificial Intelligence for consultations
Emerging technology’s boundless potential can make speech language therapy consultations more accessible. This is best exemplified by Better Speech’s AI speech therapist, which boosts accessibility by providing speech therapy services for children and adults in the comfort of their own homes. It has advanced speech-recognizing and language-processing abilities that allow it to assess speech patterns, identify key areas for improvement, and suggest interventions for the user. Using this, people can get consultations at home, which can help them detect potential communication disorders early and get the treatment they need.
Robots for speech language education and treatment
Robots can play a significant role in the future of speech language therapy, too. Robot Pet Friends reports that the educational robots market will grow at a CAGR of 18% by 2030, thanks to technological advancements that enables it to teach basic topics, like math and science. Robots can also engage in interactive learning and simulations useful in speech language therapy. For example, the University at Buffalo developed Tusi, a robot that can interact with children who need speech and language assistance, helping them improve their condition. On the other hand, the University of Sheffield built SWORD, a computerized treatment for stroke patients with speech difficulties. Using this, they’ll follow a program that will train the movements involved in speaking, allowing them to re-learn the skill.
Speech-generating devices for easier live communication
Speech-generating devices (SGDs) can supplement or replace speech or writing for individuals, letting them communicate verbally. Our post “Technology That Makes Communication Possible” reveals this has already been achieved by the Tobii Dynavox I-110. This assistive communication device lets users input names of their family members, common questions, and more for the device to announce, making communicating with other people easier. Such features can help increase confidence in speaking for those with communication disorders.
Technology has a promising future in the field of speech language therapy. It improves accessibility, treatment, and consultation for people with communication difficulties.
Article written by Romi James
Romi James is an aspiring writer who is driven by her love for her children. As a devoted mother, Romi loves to advocate children’s education and health in her articles. She hopes that she can inspire and motivate her fellow moms through each article that she writes.