Assessing and Treating Motor Speech Decline due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

  • (L-R) Dr. Abhijeet Sangwan, Dr. John Hansen, Jenny McGlothlin and Jana Mueller
  • (L-R) Dr. Abhijeet Sangwan, Dr. John Hansen, Dr. Thomas Campbell, Jana Mueller and Jenny McGlothlin
  • (L-R) Dr. John Hansen and Dr. Abhijeet Sangwan

Project Overview

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is the most common motor neuron disease in the United States. ALS affects the upper and lower motor neurons and thus affects patient’s motor functions including speech. Speech performance decline is one of the earliest indicators for the bulbar involvement impaired due to ALS.

Improved speech motor measures, will not only facilitate diagnosis but may also provide a more accurate early prognosticator of speech loss, allow for a dramatic decrease in sample size, and shorten the length of expensive experimental drug trials. The goals of this project are to improve early detection of speech motor involvement, progress monitoring of speech motor decline, and options for maintaining the patient’s speech communication. Longitudinal speech kinematic data (tongue and lip movement) data from multiple patients with ALS will be collected and analyzed using advanced computational techniques.

Stage of Development

This project is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health through a R01 grant (PI: Green, MGH Institute of Health Professions) with a subcontract to UT Dallas (co-PIs: Campbell and Wang). University of Toronto (Yunusova) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Samal) are the other major collaborating institutions. Texas Neurology is the local collaborating hospital (Heitzman) at Dallas. Longitudinal speech movement and other physiological data collection are actively ongoing for patients with ALS. Data processing and analysis have recently been started.

Development Team

The ALS project is a collaboration among the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Callier Center for Communication Disorders and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. The team of researchers includes: 

Thomas Campbell, PhD [email protected]
The University of Texas at Dallas, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Daragh Heitzman, MD
The Texas Neurology MDA/ALS Center

Jenny McGlothlin, MS, CCC-SLP [email protected]
The University of Texas at Dallas, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Jana Mueller, MS, CCC-SLP [email protected]
The University of Texas at Dallas, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Anusha Thomas, PhD [email protected]
The University of Texas at Dallas, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Jun Wang, PhD [email protected]
The University of Texas at Dallas, Biomedical Engineering and Communication Sciences and Disorders