Date of Award
Communication Sciences and Disorders
While the cause has been historically enigmatic, persistent stuttering exhibits distinct behavioral, neural and genetic characteristics. Throughout many years, a variety of motoric treatments have attempted to ameliorate overt stuttering behaviors; however, most therapeutic options provide unstable, effortful, and/or unnatural sounding results with high relapse rates. Conversely, research documents natural sounding speech coupled with stable and effortless reductions in overt stuttering frequency when a person who stutters is exposed to speech feedback of a second speech signal (i.e. choral speech). The most prolific clinical use of this technology is a prosthetically introduced auditory second speech signal; yet its current application has several technological and environmental limitations, and may not be tolerated well by users. Conversely, the tactile modality may be more comfortable relative to prosthetic implementation and thus better suited for activities of daily living. Prosthetic tactile speech feedback, in the form of a tactile second speech signal, is still a young technology and is currently in development. However, an immediate and inexpensive alternative to real-time speech feedback of a tactile second speech signal may be vibrotactile pacing administered through a smartphone application. Thirteen adults with persistent stuttering participated in this study, which included data collection sessions once a week for four weeks over videoconference. Participants read three ~300 syllable, junior high passages under three different speaking conditions, including a control, a deactivated phone, and a activated smartphone application; moments of overt stuttering were counted by the primary investigator as well as a trained research assistant. The results of this study demonstrate a main effect of the tactile pacing smartphone application on overt stuttering frequency. Bonferroni post hoc analysis reveals significant differences between the control speaking condition and the vibrotactile smartphone application (p=.000) as well as between the deactivated smartphone and the vibrotactile smartphone application (p=.033). Based on these data, an inexpensive tactile pacing smartphone application, such as the StutterLess application used in this study, might be an inexpensive and beneficial prosthetic treatment option.
Gully, Sydney Elizabeth, "Measuring the Effects of Prosthetic Tactile Pacing on Overt Stuttering Frequency in Adults Who Stutter" (2018). Honors Theses. 886.