Content » Vol 39, Issue 5

Home trials of a speech synthesizer in severe dysarthria: Patterns of use, satisfaction and utility of word prediction

Isabelle Laffont, Claude Dumas, Delphine Pozzi, Maria Ruquet, Anne Claire Tissier, Frédéric Lofaso and Olivier Dizien
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0056

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate a speech synthesizer with respect to patterns of use and satisfaction, during a 2-month trial at home, and the usefulness of the word prediction function.
Design: Prospective study.
Participants: Of the 24 patients with severe dysarthria recruited, 10 completed the study. Five patients had cerebral palsy, 3 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, one locked-in syndrome, and one anoxic brain damage. Mean age was 32 (standard deviation 21) years (range 9–66 years).
Methods: Each participant received 10 hours of training with the device (Dialo®) and then used it at home for 2 months. The main outcome measures were: level of use recorded by the device, Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology (QUEST) satisfaction score (maximum = 5), and time needed to take dictations of standard-dictionary and personal-dictionary words with and without word prediction.
Results: Level of use varied widely across participants. Overall satisfaction at the end of the home trial was high, with a mean QUEST score of 3.4 (SD 1) and was related to the level of use of the device. Level of satisfaction at the end of the training session could not predict the level of use at home. No significant differences were found in dictation-taking times with and without word prediction. However, 6 of the 10 patients took dictation faster with than without word prediction.
Conclusion: This study provides the first evidence suppor¬ting the benefits of a speech synthesizer used at home for se¬veral weeks. Word prediction is useful for some patients even if increase in dictation speed did not reach significance.

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