February 13, 2013

Helping Those with Cerebral Palsy Learn to Speak

by Levin & Perconti

It is encouraging that so many professionals are working on all aspects of understanding and treating medical conditions like cerebral palsy. For a variety of reasons, children continue to be born in our area and throughout the country who suffer from cerebral palsy with various consequences on the rest of their lives. Until we get that number down to zero, it is incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to make the lives of those affected as full as possible.

As Chicago birth injury lawyers, our firm is intimately aware of the serious challenges facing families after a youngster is born with cerebral palsy. Because the term refers to a range of injuries, the consequences for those harmed vary considerably. Some show only mild symptoms, often with movement. However, others face serious challenges, without the ability to walk, talk, or process information clearly. Those with more far-reaching harm are those who need more support, therapy, and access to equipment to help in their development. Cerebral palsy lawsuits often focus on providing the resources for that extra support when the injury itself was caused by mistakes made during a birth.

Research Improving Lives for Those with Cerebral Palsy
While access to financial resources is critical, it is only as worthwhile as the treatments and equipment which can be secured to improve the life for those with cerebral palsy. Fortunately, more and more options are being studied and developed to help maximize the quality of life for these community members. For example, the Daily Aztec recently reported on studies in labs on the San Diego State University campus which are helping to improve the lives of children who suffered the birth injury

According to the report, researchers in a speech therapy lab began investigating the connection between facial expression and speech language development in children with cerebral palsy. Because of the motor function impairments, speech is often inhibited in children with cerebral palsy. However if facial expressions can be translated into various speech alternatives, then those expression may be used to provide the children with an alternative form of communication.

To explore this possibilities the researchers plan to use computer technology to track facial movements. The technology is the same as that used in the entertainment industry to create life-like animated characters (i.e. Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy).

Summarizing the plan, the lead researcher explains “No one has looked at the speech movements of children with cerebral palsy using this type of technology. We can use the information gathered to help speech-language pathologists understand how to help their clients communicate more effectively.”

The work may ultimately work by categorizing various details about facial expressions and how they translate when certain phrases are read. By comparing the movement of different participants (up to age 18, some with cerebral palsy and some without). Early results are already showing important differences which, if analyzed properly, may be used to better understand the communication styles of those with cerebral palsy.

See Other Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Treatment May be Tied to Umbilical Cord Blood Cells

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Turned Out to be Wrong