PLM Progress Report 4: Inventing Virtual Humans that Teach and Conduct Therapy

Ron Cole (University of Colorado, Boulder)

This talk with describe and demonstrate computer programs that use virtual humans that are designed to teach children to read and to conduct speech therapy with individuals with neurological disorders.  I will briefly review theory and research that informs the design of computer programs that use virtual humans, the unique challenges involved in developing each of these programs, and the current status of the program, including results obtained in clinical trials.  The programs include ICARE, for assessing children’s reading skills, Foundations to Literacy, for teaching reading to beginning readers, LSVT Virtual Therapist, for teaching individuals with Parkinson disease to think and speak loud, and C-COSTA, ORAL, and Sentactics, for teaching speech and language skills to individuals with aphasia. 
At least 89% of individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) have a speech or voice disorder which can negatively impact quality of life.  The LSVT® has been documented to have short and long-term efficacy and Level 1 evidence for positive treatment effects.  This presentation will: 1) present the background and motivation for voice treatment in PD;  2) describe the creation of an efficacious speech treatment and efficacy data;  3) report on unexpected outcomes (facial expression, swallowing and PET;  4) discuss application of principles of LSVT to physical movement (Training BIG) and a hybrid approach (Training BIG and  LOUD); 5) demonstrate innovative technology (e.g., eLOUD (webcam), LSVT-C (PDA) and LSVT-VT (Virtual therapist)) to enhance accessibility of treatment for all people with PD who can benefit.