April 21, 2015
1 min read

Novel iPad speech therapy game engages children with cleft palate

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Researchers tested a supplementary speech tool for use in underserved areas in cleft palate speech therapy and found the tool had a high replay value, a high level of child engagement and a better understanding of speech therapy strategies.

Developed by software engineers, surgeons and speech-language pathologists, the iPad (Apple) game queues the child to say targeted phrases, which embarks the main character through an adventure within the game. The speech recognition software separates the child’s speech into specific sounds. Words are highlighted on screen that were mispronounced, and the child is given another opportunity to pronounce them.

Travis T. Tollefson, MD, MPH

Travis T. Tollefson

In a study of 10 children with cleft palate and/or a cleft lip identified as needing speech therapy, a speech language pathologist (SLP), surgeon and the child’s parents observed the game play. The SLP rated the child’s pronunciation with the assessment provided by the game’s software. Parents were also asked to complete a questionnaire for feedback.

All of the children included in the study achieved correct speech recognition on the first attempt in three of five target phrases and on the third attempt for the remaining two phrases. Patients’ mean time to game completion was 164.3 seconds, and the researchers observed a high level of concordance between results of the game and the real-time scores determined by the SLP.

No significant differences were observed between the parental responses related to their child’s engagement in the game, the game’s replay value, positive rewards and clear goal of the game, according to the researchers. Responses to each of the categories, with the exception of one parent’s response regarding appropriate game difficulty, produced mean scores higher than four.

The researchers concluded participant responses were captured accurately, and that the game time was within the child’s attention span. - by Abigail Sutton

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.