Apple’s iPhone Finds New Use in Treating Stuttering at Hollins Communications Research Institute

Scientists at Hollins Communications Research Institute  https://www.stuttering.org), a leading center for stuttering research and treatment innovation, have just completed successful trials using Apple’s iPhone as a stuttering therapy tool to enhance the transfer of new fluency skills from the clinical setting into real-life situations.

The iPhone device was programmed at HCRI with a sophisticated voice monitoring system that evaluates and scores speech behaviors taught during stuttering therapy.  When clients use the device during training in outside situations, such as in a shopping mall, restaurant or business setting, fluency measurements for each utterance are displayed on the iPhone screen.  Having this data immediately available to stuttering therapy program participants makes speech practice more effective and helps improve the speed with which fluency results are achieved.

In addition, the iPhone records every speech sample in an onboard file for later transmission to HCRI. This information enables the institute’s therapists to provide more detailed and precise training to clients, as they learn to apply new speech capabilities in everyday situations.

The iPhone has exceeded expectations during trials with stuttering therapy participants, according to HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.  Client scores in outside trials were similar to those made in the clinical environment, indicating that quality transfer of fluency skills was being attained.

“Our clients now have a dynamic, easy-to-use tool that can be used in virtually any setting to evaluate how well they are using newly learned fluency skills,” Dr. Webster said. “In addition, the device provides training feedback and performance data that were previously available only with our clinic-based computers.”

Webster added that client responses during the trials, which were completed last week, have been extremely positive.  He attributes the device’s strong appeal to the fact that the iPhone is a practical and fun piece of technology to use for the advancement of stuttering treatment outcomes.

The iPhone will become a regular component of HCRI’s stuttering treatment during the week of  January 26, 2009.  HCRI’s stuttering program, Hollins Fluency Program: Advanced Speech Reconstruction for StutteringTM, helps people who stutter learn how to replace faulty muscle contractions that cause stuttering with new muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech.  By helping people learn how to reconstruct muscle actions that drive movements of the tongue, lips, jaw, vocal folds, and breathing mechanisms, individuals who stutter can acquire and sustain the ability to speak fluently.

An estimated 66 million people worldwide suffer from the effects of stuttering, with three million living in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. There is no cure for the condition – only stuttering treatment can help.

About HCRI

Hollins Communications Research Institute (https://www.stuttering.org), founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., has grown into a world-leading center for the investigation and treatment of stuttering.  The 501 (c) (3) nonprofit institute is unique from other stuttering organizations in that work focuses on developing scientifically based treatment methods, as well as administering stuttering therapy.

More than 5,600 people from 23 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering therapy. Clients include John Stossel of ABC TV’s 20/20 program; Arthur Blank, cofounder of Home Depot; and Annie Glenn, wife of senator and astronaut John Glenn. HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Virginia, 24019. Contact HCRI at admin@stuttering.org or 540-265-5650. For video speech samples and more information, visit https://www.stuttering.org.

New, Advanced Therapy Program Helps People Who Stutter Acquire Fluent Speech >>

Hollins Communications Research Institute Forges New Ground in the Treatment of Stuttering

Scientists at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a non-profit research and clinical center (https://www.stuttering.org) specializing in the physically based treatment of stuttering, have developed a new stuttering therapy with advanced behavioral, electronic and computer technologies that significantly improve the ease of learning and retaining fluent speech.

An estimated 66 million people worldwide suffer from the effects of stuttering, with three million living in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.  Stuttering occurs when speech muscles inappropriately contract and “jump out of control” with too much force and abruptness during attempts to speak. Markers of stuttering include repetitions of sounds, syllables and words; prolongations of first sounds in syllables; and voice blockage when trying to talk.  The condition can impair social growth, hinder education and career aspirations, and produce emotional scars that may last a lifetime.

HCRI’s new stuttering therapy, Hollins Fluency Program: Advanced Speech Reconstruction for StutteringTM  (HFP), helps people who stutter learn how to replace faulty muscle contractions that cause stuttering with new muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech.  By literally “reconstructing” muscle actions that drive movements of the tongue, lips, jaw, vocal folds, and breathing mechanisms, individuals who stutter can acquire and sustain the ability to speak fluently.

Effective across a wide range of stuttering types and severities, HFP represents a meaningful alternative to existing treatments, according to HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D..  “Many stuttering therapies require long-term participation (a year or longer), are presented by clinicians who have little direct experience with stuttering, and typically yield unreliable results,” said Webster.  “In addition, fluency enhancing devices that have garnered media attention, such as the FluencyMaster and SpeechEasy, help with only about 25% of stuttering cases,” he added.

Conversely, Webster reports that 93% of HCRI clients master fluent speech by the end of the 12-day intensive therapy program.  Researchers developed HFP after studying and treating more than 5,500 people who stutter, ranging in age from 10 to 73. This third generation HCRI therapy incorporates new knowledge of muscle movements that actively generate fluent speech for each sound class in language and features additional treatment innovations including:

  • Enhanced computer-based training techniques that make it easier for clients to understand, learn and maintain details of muscle movements that produce fluent speech;
  • An acoustically based biofeedback system that measures speech muscle use in real time and signals clients whether or not they are using their muscles correctly;
  • A virtual transfer module that facilitates the transition from fluency skill use in the clinic to fluency skill use in daily life; and
  • Sophisticated performance tracking tools that determine therapy progression and individualized support needs.

Future Potential for Global Treatment Access

HFP was built on a web-based platform and offers the potential to deliver quality controlled stuttering therapy on a 24/7 basis to anyone in the world with internet access.  During the next two years, HCRI plans to develop remote therapy administration over the web and partner with health systems of countries where quality stuttering treatment is needed.

“The fact that we will be able to present stuttering therapy virtually any where over the internet means that barriers to treatment availability might be reduced or eliminated,” said Webster.  “There are many places in the world where stuttering treatment is non-existent.  Our new program could address this problem and help many who stutter to acquire fluent speech – a gift most people take for granted.”

About HCRI

Hollins Communications Research Institute (https://www.stuttering.org), founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., has grown into a world-leading center for the investigation and treatment of stuttering.  The non-profit institute is unique from other stuttering organizations in that work focuses on developing scientifically based treatment methods, as well as administering stuttering therapy.

HCRI clients include John Stossel of ABC TV’s 20/20 program; Arthur Blank, cofounder of Home Depot; and Annie Glenn, wife of senator and astronaut John Glenn. HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Virginia, 24019. Contact HCRI at admin@stuttering.org or 540-265-5650. For video speech samples and more information, visit https://www.stuttering.org .

How to Help People Who Stutter

There are 66 million people globally who suffer from the debiliating effects of stuttering.  Yet there is help in the form of treatment that can transform their lives. That’s why Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a pioneer in stuttering research and treatment innovation, has launched a development initiative designed to extend treatment access and support vital research in the field of stuttering.  The fundraising effort is called the Inventing the Future campaign — and you can help.

Envision what it would be like to live each day having people…

  • Turn away when you try to talk with them;
  • Hang up the telephone when you call them; or
  • Laugh when you are desperately struggling to say something important.

This is what happens to people who stutter.  They have fluent thoughts, fluent writing abilities, and even fluent singing skills. Yet, it all breaks down when they try to talk.  Stuttering (also called stammering) affects three million people living in the United States and 66 million people worldwide.  Those who speak fluently take it for granted.

Sadly, stuttering has been ignored on the national health stage because it is deeply misunderstood by people who do not have it.  Many have the misconception that persons who stutter are less intelligent – or have emotional or mental problems. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

HCRI research scientists have demonstrated that stuttering has a physical basis and is not caused by mental dysfunction or anxiety.  The simple fact is that stutterers are normal people who have difficulty talking; and they deserve help and attention.

The good news is that HCRI, which was founded in 1972, has pioneered the development of scientifically based stuttering treatment methods that have helped thousands who stutter learn to speak fluently.

Researchers at the Institute are on the verge of key discoveries that may isolate the cause of stuttering, which could ultimately lead to a cure. In addition, HCRI is working on ways to use technology to extend treatment access to more people in more places than ever before possible.

The reality of operating a not-for-profit institute is that outside funding is needed to move forward with important work that will benefit society.  That’s what led HCRI to initiate the Inventing the Future campaign.   Interested persons can join the cause to help improve the lives of persons who stutter by making a gift at  www.stuttering.org or calling 540-265-5650.

HCRI Honored by Virginia General Assembly for Stuttering Research and Therapy Innovation >>

The Virginia General Assembly commends Hollins Communications Research Institute for its innovative research and scientifically based treatment services in the field of stuttering, as the nonprofit institute celebrates its 35th anniversary.

PRESS RELEASE:

The Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed a house joint resolution during the 2007 session commending Roanoke-based Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) for its pioneering research and therapy in the field of stuttering.

The resolution was delivered to Executive Director Dr. Ronald Webster over the weekend. It arrived in time to share with clients from across the country who had come to Roanoke to attend the 34th annual HCRI reunion and learn about developments in stuttering therapy.

Founded in 1972 by Webster, HCRI has grown into a world-leading center for the investigation and treatment of stuttering, which affects 64 million people globally. The not-for-profit institute, which is in its 35th year,  is unique from other stuttering centers in that work focuses on developing scientifically based treatment methods and learning technologies, in addition to administering therapy programs.

Nearly 6,000 from the United States and 23 other countries have been treated for stuttering at HCRI’s facility. Therapy program graduates include: John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC 20/20; Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and astronaut John Glenn; and Lester Hayes of the Oakland Raiders.

Both Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital are now sending patients to the HCRI for stuttering treatment.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by the Virginia General Assembly for our continuing work in the field of stuttering,” Webster said.  “Stuttering is a complex physical problem that is deeply misunderstood by people who do not have it.  Those who stutter have limitations beyond comprehension. We are dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to help people speak fluently, which will transform lives and create opportunities never before possible.”

HCRI is in the process of expanding its clinical and research program, and has recently developed a powerful computer program that improves speech measurement for enhancing and sustaining treatment results. HCRI specialists are also working in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health on the genetic analysis of stuttering.

“New projects on previously unrecognized links between speech and hearing are now underway. The studies are already yielding exciting results.  This work may lead us to discover the cause of stuttering – and find a cure during our lifetime.” Webster said.

RESOLUTION:
Virginia General Assembly
House Join Resolution No. 871
Commending Hollins Communications Research Institute

WHEREAS, the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., in Roanoke is a nonprofit educational and research organization dedicated to the treatment of stuttering; and

WHEREAS, the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., founded by Dr. Ronald L. Webster in 1972, scientifically demonstrates the highest success rate in the treatment of stuttering when compared with similar speech therapy programs anywhere in the world; and

WHEREAS, the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., has offered its therapeutic services to more than 5,400 persons, enabling them to communicate fluently with loved ones, colleagues, and people in their everyday life; and

WHEREAS, the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., has attracted clients from throughout the United States and 23 foreign countries to its treatment facility in Southwest Virginia and include students, the United States military, corporate executives, professional athletes, Hollywood entertainers, and local and national news broadcasters; and

WHEREAS, the dedicated staff of the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., commit thousands of hours each year to researching the causes of stuttering and continually improving the treatment programs they provide their clients; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly commend the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., on its outstanding services and commitment to helping those unable to speak fluently; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Inc., as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for its extraordinary program and remarkable success.