Apps bridge speech gap in Parkinson’s

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People with Parkinson’s might regain their confidence in communicating thanks to mobile phone apps being developed by scientists in Portsmouth.

Dr Roger Eglin, of the University of Portsmouth, hopes to develop two mobile phone apps to assist thousands of people with Parkinson’s to improve their speech and allow them to be better understood by their family, friends and healthcare workers.

Parkinson’s UK has awarded a grant of £35,000 to Dr Eglin, of the university’s Department of Creative Technologies, to run the year-long project.

Speech problems affect nearly 75 per cent of the 120,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK.

Dr Eglin explained that problems communicating can have a profound impact on quality of Parkinson’s sufferers’ lives .

He said: “Many people with Parkinson’s already have and use mobile phones, making them a low-cost, simple and effective way for helping people improve their own speech.

“We’ve already developed a basic mobile phone application to improve speech, but it needs to be further improved and tailored specifically for people with Parkinson’s.

“We will be testing our application with people with Parkinson’s at every stage of development to make sure it is effective and easy to use.”

Dr Kieran Breen, director of research and innovation at Parkinson’s UK, said: “We are really delighted to be funding Dr Eglin’s new research.

“Speech problems affect around 70 per cent of people with Parkinson’s. This can make everyday things much more difficult, and can have a profound impact on their quality of life.”