Virginia Tech Researcher Seeks to Use Electrical Stimulation to Give Voice to Stroke Patients

Virginia Tech

A Virginia Tech College of Engineering researcher is seeking a new way to help those who are unable to speak to find their voice. But this isn’t “The King’s Speech,” the Academy Award-winning film about a British royal undergoing speech therapy to battle a stammer. Instead, Alexander Leonessa (http://www.me.vt.edu/people/faculty/leonessa.html) wants to help bring back the voice of stroke patients and others who have suffered paralysis of the vocal folds, through electrical stimulation.

Leonessa, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering (http://www.me.vt.edu/), is developing a small device that could use functional electrical stimulation on the paralyzed vocal folds of stroke patients or others who have lost the ability to talk, or even swallow and breathe properly. “The device has the potential of improving the quality of life for patients with vocal paralysis, or neuromuscular disabilities, including traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.