Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Indiana start-up to build telehealth platform for Parkinson's patients

William Payne
June 2, 2016
An Indiana life sciences start-up SpeechVive has gained funding to build a telehealth platform for Parkinson's patients and a medical device to improve their speech clarity. The telehealth platform will allow SpeechVive to expand more rapidly by reaching elderly or physically impaired patients who cannot travel to speech pathologists.

SpeechVive was awarded a two-year $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as an additional $975,000 in investments from BioCrossroads' Indiana Seed Fund II, The Purdue Foundry and a private investor.

Based on research by Jessica Huber, Ph.D. at the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, SpeechVive is developing medical devices to improve speech clarity of Parkinson's patients. The SpeechVive device, which fits like a hearing aid in the patient's ear, detects when a patient is speaking and elicits louder and clearer speech through an involuntary reflex known as the Lombard Effect.

"Approximately 89 percent of people with Parkinson's disease will have speech issues which SpeechVive can address. A telehealth platform will help us rapidly expand into more rural areas within the U.S. and to areas outside the U.S. where there are larger populations impacted by Parkinson's disease," Dr. Huber added.  "This funding will be transformative for our company."

Dr. Huber has worked with Parkinson's patients at Purdue for the past 15 years.

"SpeechVive is an excellent example of how research and discovery in the lab of one of our universities can be translated into a commercialized product that improves the quality of life for patients throughout the world," said David L. Johnson, President and CEO of BioCrossroads. "The company has promising technology that is attracting investors both inside the state and nationally."

More than 8 million people worldwide and 1.5 million in the United States suffer from chronic neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. Along with the physical symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, patients can also suffer from a speech condition known as hypokinetic dysarthria. The condition is characterized by reduced vocal volume, impaired speech rate and diminished articulation.