I got the opportunity to try a product from Europe called Forbrain.
First of all the company has been so great to work with and so dedicated to their product. They were also patient with me as I took an ETERNITY to write this review!
The Fobrain offers auditory feedback via bone conduction! They call it an "enhanced audio vocal loop." It's supposed to increase your sound encoding skills. They say it can improve your comprehension of the info you read aloud, it can help your attention to the task, your encoding it into memory, and your improved speech and voice as you listen to yourself, among other things. Basically, while you're speaking, you can hear what you're saying more loudly and intensely as it comes back to you. The "speaker" part of the device rests in front of your ears right on your bones and the sound is vibrated through to your ears. The company suggested I try it out with patients working on voice, motor speech, and cognition.
I tried the device on myself first, and did some reading out loud. I could definitely hear my speech coming back to me loud and clear, and I could feel the vibrations in my bones. I immediately thought this would be great for those patients with voice issues or dysarthria who are less aware of their speech problems, or who have a hard time hearing the subtle things we are asking them to listen for. Even artic problems could benefit I'm guessing.
Of course, after wearing it myself and doing some reading, it's very hard for me to judged accurately whether or not it improved my attention and memory, etc. There are some clinical trials going on in Europe right now to test those things. It will be interesting to see the results. If the company can still stand to work with me after me being so slow and annoying, I'll keep you posted. :)
I then tried the device with several of my patients, since it is obviously not harmful, and since any additional potential help to my dysarthria and voice therapy skills is welcome. My patients have all commented that the device is comfortable, seems to be helping. I did notice with two particularly quiet and dysarthiric patients, their speech did seem to improve mildly after placement of the device. I think I will hang onto it and continue to use it with patients who need a little something more than traditional tx, or who are not responding to my cues well. I tried it with a couple of patients working on memory and attention, and again, they said the device seemed helpful in staying on task and remembering what they were reading. Again, I don't see why this couldn't be used by me experimentally to help give patients a "boost."
Several of my colleagues are considering using the device experimentally, and we even considered doing a simple research project and presenting a poster at ASHA. This could be a future research project!
In conclusion, I think the deice has some great potential. I love to try to things, and will continue to use it with dysarthria and voice patients who need more help with listening, perceptual skills, changing subtle thinks in their speech, resonance, voice, etc. And I'll be watching for the results of these trials in Europe. If you are interested in the device, you can leave a comment below and I'll ask my contact person if they would like to contact you for beta testing, reviewing, research, or purchasing. I don't know if they are currently available for purchase in the US.
Let me know what you think!!