Movement-Tracking Technology Could Identify Speech Disorders in Children Precise differences in facial movements identified through motion capture may help distinguish childhood apraxia from other types of speech disorders in children, according to a new study. Researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development say they have found differences in the way children with ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2016
Movement-Tracking Technology Could Identify Speech Disorders in Children
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2016
Movement-Tracking Technology Could Identify Speech Disorders in Children
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21012016.15
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, 15. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21012016.15
Precise differences in facial movements identified through motion capture may help distinguish childhood apraxia from other types of speech disorders in children, according to a new study.
Researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development say they have found differences in the way children with speech disorders talk that are typically undetectable by the ears of speech-language pathologists. The study, published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, used the same technology as computer-generated imagery (CGI) and video game developers to capture realistic human movement.
“This research enables us to look at the movement patterns used to produce a word in relation to the way that word is perceived,” says lead author Maria Grigos, associate professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at NYU. “Including the perceptual component is key because, as clinicians, we rely heavily on the judgments we make when listening to children speak. One of our aims was to determine if we could identify differences in how the lips and jaw move even when speech is perceived to be accurate by the listener.”

“One of our aims was to determine if we could identify differences in how the lips and jaw move even when speech is perceived to be accurate by the listener.”

Thirty-three children ages 3–7 (11 with apraxia, 11 with other speech disorders and 11 with no speech impairments) were observed while wearing tiny white reflective markers on their faces. The researchers looked at the timing, speed and variability of jaw, lower lip and upper-lip movements as the participants repeated one-, two- and three-syllable words.
Analyzing only words they perceived as accurately produced, the researchers found subtle movement differences in the children who had apraxia, compared with the other two groups of children—most notably more varied lip and jaw movements. And although both groups of children who had speech disorders took more time to produce words—with differences in duration and movement variability—than those without impairments, the participants with apraxia displayed more variability.
“Children with apraxia don’t improve quickly with treatment,” Grigos says. “Our findings suggest that the motor deficits seen in children with apraxia may contribute to their slow progress in treatment and difficulty generalizing newly acquired speech skills to untrained tasks.”
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January 2016
Volume 21, Issue 1