Research

­Recognizing therapy effects in face and speech of ALS patients via the ALS app

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APST is introducing digital speech and facial expression analysis via the ALS app in a model project. The analysis of speech and facial expressions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is useful because the speech and facial muscles are affected during the course of the disease.

The analysis of speech and facial expressions is of great interest for the treatment of ALS. Thus, in the future, analysis of speech and facial expressions could be used to assess the therapeutic efficacy of medications and other treatment procedures.

Since 1991, the ALS Self-Rating Scale (ALSFRS) has been the accepted instrument for assessing language impairment in ALS. However, the ALSFRS questionnaire is a relatively fuzzy tool for detecting disease progression. Digital analysis of speech and facial expressions could provide an equivalent or even better method to detect disease progression.

Introduction of a new technology

With the integration of a software for speech and facial expression analysis into the ALS-App, the recording of the course of ALS should be improved. In a first step, we would like to establish the method of speech and facial expression analysis via the ALS app and learn how the new technology is used by ALS patients.

In a second step, speech and facial expression analysis will be applied as a comparable or potentially even superior method to the ALSFRS questionnaire for recording the disease progression of ALS. We would like to clarify the following research questions with the software in the near future:

– Is there a correlation between changes in speech and facial expression and the ALSFRS questionnaire? That is, can changes in speech and facial expression analysis also be detected with the ALSFRS questionnaire?

– Is there a correlation between speech and facial expression analysis and ALS therapy? That is, can therapy effects of new drugs (e.g., of Tofersen and study drugs) as well as of other ALS therapies (e.g., high-caloric nutrition therapy or non-invasive/invasive ventilation) be detected with analysis of speech and facial expression?

How does speech and facial expression capture work via the ALS app?

The recording of speech and facial expressions via the ALS app takes about 5 to 10 minutes per session. The analysis software provides a short, standardized program with questions and answers, voice and reading exercises, and free speech. As you speak, your smartphone’s camera and microphone capture the movements of your facial muscles. The program compares the changes in speech and facial expressions between sessions. For each change, it gives an assessment of how severe the impairment is.



Figure: Speech and facial expression analysis program via the ALS app

­ Explainer video for speech and facial expression analysis

For a more detailed description of the speech and facial expression analysis via the ALS app, we recommend our explainer video. If you have any questions about the technology, please contact our app manager Friedrich Schaudinn.



­ Explainer video describing the speech and facial expression analysis via the ALS app.

Interested patients wanted for model project on speech and facial expression recording

Currently we would like to work with a group of 30 ALS patients to establish the technical method in a model project . We are still looking for patients who are willing to use the ALS app with speech and facial expression analysis via their smartphone. If you are interested in the project, please contact our app manager Friedrich Schaudinn by phone or email.

­ Your contact person:
Friedrich Schaudinn
App-Manager
Mail: f.schaudinn@ambulanzpartner.de
Fon: 030 81031410
Mobil: 0170-5564502


With kind regards
Your APST team