Artificial intelligence technology helps Parkinson's patients during COVID-19 pandemic

November 24, 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The COVID-19 pandemic is leading a Purdue University innovator to make changes as she works to provide new options for people with Parkinson's disease.

Jessica Huber, a professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and associate dean for research in Purdue's College of Health and Human Sciences, leads Purdue's Motor Speech Lab. Huber and her team are now doing virtual studies to evaluate speech disorders related to Parkinson's using artificial intelligence technology platforms.

Huber and her team have been working to develop telepractice tools for the assessment and treatment of speech impairments like Parkinson's disease. They received a National Institutes of Health small business innovation and research grant to develop a telehealth platform to facilitate the provision of speech treatment with the SpeechVive device, which has received attention at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

In the current study, Huber and her team are collaborating with a startup company, Modality AI, which developed the AI platform that will be used in the study.

"The application of the technology we are evaluating may lead to far-reaching insights into more standardization in assessments, earlier diagnoses and possibly an easier way to track discrete changes over time to guide interventions," said Andrew Exner, a graduate research assistant in the Motor Speech Lab. "My personal research passion, and the mission of our lab, is to find ways to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson's and other related diseases."

Exner is leading the virtual study for participants across the country to evaluate an AI platform that can collect and automatically measure the speech skills of people with Parkinson's disease. The need for AI platforms is increasing as the use of telepractice explodes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My interest in speech-language pathology actually started during my training as an actor and opera singer," Exner said. "I saw the effects of pathology on the voice and wanted to extend that interest into speech disorders."

SpeechVive Inc. is an Indiana startup company based on Huber's research. The company has developed a wearable medical device to improve the speech clarity of people with Parkinson's.
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Anyone interested in learning more about the virtual studies or taking part, can email Exner at exner@purdue.edu.

About SpeechVive

SpeechVive is a behind the ear smart device which helps people with Parkinson's disease speak more loudly and communicate more effectively. The SpeechVive device is based on the research of inventor and co-founder Jessica Huber at Purdue University. Clinical data over four years demonstrated SpeechVive to be effective in improving volume, articulation and speech rate in 90% of the people participating in four multi-site clinical trials. It is estimated that 1.5 million people in the U.S. and 10 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's disease. To learn more about SpeechVive, visit http://www.speechvive.com.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. In 2020, the IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today's toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Writer: Chris Adam, cladam@prf.org

Source: Andrew Exner, exner@purdue.edu

Purdue University

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