A pilot trial of electropalatography (EPG) for children with hearing impairment is about to start in Cornwall with a Research for Patient Benefit grant obtained with RDS support. EPG is a biofeedback device that might be helpful to speech therapists working with children to encourage development of intelligible speech.
The device has many tiny sensors that detect where the tongue is making contact, displaying the results visually on a screen. The pattern generated while the child attempts a particular sound (e.g. “k”, “t”) can be compared with the target pattern for that sound. Seeing the patterns may help the child, with support from the therapist, to move more quickly towards the intended goal therefore producing a better sound.
Although EPG has been used in a variety of settings, there is no definitive trial assessing its effectiveness in children with hearing impairment. Dr Lucy Ellis and Joanna Wallis are undertaking this pilot to ensure a larger multi-centre trial can be planned with confidence. The pilot will test important issues such as recruitment, attrition and use of outcome measures. The views of participating children and parents will also be sought, on both the use of EPG and the experience of the trial.
The project began to take shape on the annual research school and the RDS team continued to work with Lucy and Jo, helping them to build a wider research team and to develop the successful grant application.
“We would never have got a grant in a million years without the RDS” says Lucy, adding “It's the level of support you get and also the quality of the people who help you develop your ideas to fruition - it means everything to have that door opened onto new ventures.”