Purpose: This study compared the performance of three amplification devices hypothesized to improve speech communication in individuals with hypophonia (HP), as well as to identify individuals’ device preferences.
Method: Twenty-two individuals with HP and their primary communication partners participated in a cross-over design study comparing three different speech amplification devices: a wired portable amplifier (Device A), a wireless stationary amplifier (Device B), and a one-way personal communication system (Device C). Participants attended one laboratory visit followed by 1-week trial periods with each device. At the first visit, HP participants completed speech tasks with and without the devices, in quiet and in noise. Following the in-laboratory test period, participants trialed each device at home for approximately 1 week per device. Following completion of the study, participants indicated whether or not they would like to continue using a device.
Results: Overall, in the presence of noise, all three devices demonstrated significant improvements in speech-to-noise levels and speech intelligibility compared to no device. A clear device hierarchy emerged such that the personal communication device (Device C) was associated with significantly better speech outcomes compared to the other two devices. The majority of participants elected to continue using a device at the completion of the study. Device preferences, however, did not clearly reflect the objective device hierarchy that was found for the objective speech measures. Each of the three devices was selected as a preferred device by at least three participants at the completion of the study.
Conclusion: Results from this study demonstrated clear differences in device performance in three distinct forms of amplification devices for individuals with HP. Findings suggest that amplification device use may be beneficial for this clinical population and underscore the potential to improve device availability and device selection criteria in future research.