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Assessing disordered speech in Parkinson’s Disease online: A telerehabilitation application
Deborah Theodoros, Gabriella Constantinescu, Trevor Russell, and Elizabeth Ward

Telerehabilitation technology has the potential to improve access to speech pathology services for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The aim of this study was to validate an Internet-based protocol for the assessment of dysarthria associated with PD by comparison with a clinical face-to-face assessment. Ten dysarthric speakers with PD were assessed online and face-to-face simultaneously by two clinicians. The assessment protocol included: severity rating of a conversational speech sample; informal motor speech assessment; ratings of voice dimensions (breathiness, roughness, strained-strangled quality, wetness, tremor, phonation and pitch breaks, pitch and loudness levels and variability); measurement of sound pressure level during vowel prolongation, reading, and conversational speech; and measurement of highest and lowest pitch levels during pitch range tasks. Percentage levels of agreement between the two assessors across the majority of parameters was high and confidence intervals indicated that 95% of differences between the two assessment methods fell within, or close to, clinical criteria set for the majority of parameters. The results of this study indicated that speech intelligibility, vocal parameters, and the motor speech mechanism of dysarthric speakers with PD could be reliably assessed across the Internet. Telerehabilitation technology potentially provides an alternative platform for the assessment of dysarthria in people with PD.

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