Purpose: This study evaluates the effects of a novel speech therapy program that uses a verbal cue and gamified augmented visual feedback regarding tongue movements to address articulatory hypokinesia during speech in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Method: Five participants with PD participated in an ABA single-subject design study. The treatment aimed to increase tongue movement size using a combination of a verbal cue and augmented visual feedback and was conducted in 10 45-min sessions over 5 weeks. The presence of visual feedback was manipulated during treatment. Articulatory working space of the tongue was the primary outcome measure and was examined during treatment and in cued and uncued sentences pre- and posttreatment. Changes in speech intelligibility in response to a verbal cue pre- and posttreatment were also examined.
Results: During treatment, 4/5 participants showed a beneficial effect of visual feedback on tongue articulatory working space. At the end of the treatment, they used larger tongue movements when cued, relative to their pretreatment performance. None of the participants, however, generalized the effect to the uncued sentences. Speech intelligibility of cued sentences was judged as superior posttreatment only in a single participant.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that using an augmented visual feedback approach is beneficial, beyond a verbal cue alone, in addressing articulatory hypokinesia in individuals with PD. An optimal degree of articulatory expansion might, however, be required to elicit a speech intelligibility benefit.