Various progressive diseases such as ALS (also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease) can result in the loss of verbal speech abilities. Sometimes strokes or other forms of brain injury can also result in temporary or permanent loss of voice and speech skills. However, loss of verbal speech does not have to result in loss of communication with loved ones. Several high and low tech alternative communication options are available to ensure continued communication despite physical impairments.
Swallowing and Neurological Rehabilitation specializes in alternative and augmentative communication and is on the Tulsa MDA team to serve the needs of individuals in the Tulsa metro area with ALS and other progressive neuromuscular diseases.
When should you see a speech-language pathologist?
The sooner, the better! After a stroke or brain injury, the sooner therapy is intiated, the better the outcomes. With progressive disorders, early intervention is equally important. Often, when an individual is first diagnosed with a progressive condition such as ALS, their speech may be still relatively spared at that point. It is important to seek SLP services at this stage while voice is still relatively intact so that voice banking and device training can be completed early.
Voice Banking: Voice banking involves recording a large sample of a person’s speech that is then analyzed with a special software to create a synthetic voice that approximates the person’s natural speaking voice. This synthetic voice can then be later placed on a communication app or device, and the voice of the device will sound very much like the individual versus a computer-like voice and can be used to generate spontaneous messages on the device. In some cases if the voice is already incapable of being recorded by the time this process is initiated, a loved one with a similar voice may complete the voice banking process for the individual.
Message/Story Banking: Message banking involves recoding and storing words, phrases, sentences, and personally meaningful expressions in the individual’s natural speaking voice. These messages can then be played back later on a communication app or device, exactly word-for-word and in the person’s actual voice. Story banking involves recording whole stories so that these personal favorite stories are then available to share with others.