A London hospital is using technology to help patients with a progressive neurological disease save their voices in case they lose them in the future.
Voice Banking allows you to record phrases using a specialized computer program. Speech sounds are converted into a personalized synthesized voice that can be used when your own voice is no longer available.
The Neurology Speech and Language Therapy team at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery (TNHNN) in central London is using this technology to help patients who have been severely deprived of their ability to speak.
About 80% of people with motor neuron disease (MND) lose the ability to communicate even the simplest of needs using natural speech.
Project Leader Jody Allen said: By giving patients the opportunity to voice bank, they can leave the door open to talk to their dogs, read to their grandchildren, and talk to family and friends.
Ten years ago, John Withingham was diagnosed with a form of cerebellar ataxia called spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6). It’s an inherited condition that Mr. Whittingham, 68, witnessed happening to both his father and grandfather.
In April of this year, Withingham worked with a speech therapist at TNHNN to record his voice using a voice banking device.
he said: I was surprised at how few words and phrases I had to record. He read about 30 phrases, which seemed to cover it all.
“Apart from writing, driving, and using a wheeled walker outdoors, I can still do most things. However, my condition is progressive and it is reassuring to know that my voice recordings have been saved and will be ready in case I need them. It’s better that people can hear me. Voice Banking is a very positive thing for people in my position.”
This instrument was funded by the Small Acorns fund of the National Brain Appeal. This gives her NHS staff on the front lines access to funding for small projects that have a positive impact on patient care.
Since its launch in 2013, it has funded 140 projects.
Theresa Dauncey, CEO of The National Brain Appeal, said: We know that frontline staff best understand the daily challenges that patients and their families face. Small Acorns is there to help these staff get their ideas off the ground to improve where they are most needed. “