Teresa Lever, Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale, Filiz Bunyak and Yunxin Zhao

Principal Investigators

Teresa Lever, PhD

Department of Otolaryngology

Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale, PhD

Department of Communication Science and Disorders

Filiz Bunyak, PhD

Department of Computer Science

Yunxin Zhao, PhD

Department of Computer Science

Tongue Twister: Mobile Health App for Early Detection and Monitoring of Tongue Dysfunction Caused by Neurological Disorders

The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body and is essential for normal speech and swallowing function. Therefore, tongue dysfunction caused by neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and multiple sclerosis can result in devastating speech and swallowing impairments. In the United States, approximately 15 million people are living with speech and swallowing impairments that profoundly impede quality of life and cost over $30 billion annually in medical care and lost work productivity. Current diagnostic methods to detect and monitor tongue dysfunction are subjective and therefore prone to inaccuracy, which risks misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. Tongue Twister provides a low-cost, easy-to-use software solution that transforms widely used tongue performance tasks into real-time objective data, thus enabling earlier and more accurate detection and treatment of tongue dysfunction and monitoring of treatment outcomes. This is especially important for progressive neurological disorders, for which earlier intervention is associated with improved quality of life and survival. Scalability beyond clinical settings includes detection of sports concussions during athletic events and detection of fatigue and substance abuse by law enforcement and safety regulatory agencies.