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More MS news articles for June 2003

Comparability of perceptual analysis of speech characteristics in Australian and Swedish speakers with multiple sclerosis

Folia Phoniatr Logop. 2003 Jul-Aug;55(4):177-88
Hartelius L, Theodoros D, Cahill L, Lillvik M.
Department of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, Goteborg University, Goteborg, Sweden.

The aims of the present study were to compare the perceptual assessments of deviant speech signs (dysarthria) exhibited by Australian and Swedish speakers with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to explore whether judgements of dysarthria differed depending on whether the speakers and the judges spoke the same or different languages.

Ten Australian and 10 Swedish individuals with MS (matched as closely as possible for age, gender, progression type and severity of dysarthria) were assessed by 2 Australian and 2 Swedish clinically experienced judges using a protocol including 33 speech parameters.

Results show that the following perceptual dimensions were identified by both pairs of judges in both groups of speakers to a just noticeable or moderate degree: imprecise consonants, inappropriate pitch level, reduced general rate, and glottal fry.

The reliability (Spearman rank-order correlation) of the consensus ratings from the Australian and the Swedish judges was high, with a mean rho of 85.7 for the Australian speakers and mean rho of 84.3 for the Swedish speakers.

The most difficult perceptual parameters to assess (i.e. to agree on) included harshness, level of pitch and loudness, precision of consonants and general stress pattern.

The study indicated that perceptual assessments of speech characteristics in individuals with MS are informative and can be achieved with high inter-judge reliability irrespective of the judge's knowledge of the speaker's language.