Wearable Electronics and Aphasia

Wearable electronics are any technology that can be worn on or implanted in the body, ranging from smartwatches and activity trackers (such as FitBit) to hearing aids. Scientists are turning their eye to creating wearable electronics that could aid in recovery after a stroke. One of these inventions is a throat sensor that could be a game-changer for treating aphasia.

Throat Sensors

John Rogers, a professor in Northwestern University’s engineering department, is working on an electronic device that adheres to the skin with a sticker. As the person moves through their day, it sends back important information. In this case, it’s tracking the patient’s ability to swallow and their speech patterns.

A Chicago news station reports that “the tools traditionally used by speech-language pathologists to monitor patients’ speech and swallowing, such as microphones, can’t distinguish between patients’ voices and ambient noise.”

Moreover, these sensors could give speech therapists accurate information, removing the need for patients to track their progress:

The throat sensors also allow clinicians to track how frequently patients with aphasia are talking and use that data to set goals. “Not only are we as therapists getting the feedback, but the patients can get feedback as well … and then they have goals to strive for,” said Cherney. “It can be very motivating for them.”

That feedback is more objective than subjective, giving patients concrete evidence of their progress and rate of recovery.

Real World

This invention is important because it takes patients out of the speech therapy world and into the every day world, which is where that progress counts the most. By wearing this trackable device, speech therapists can measure speech abilities when patients are relaxed, hanging out with friends or going about their lives at home. Information can be gained over a long period of time because it’s not reliant on office visits.

As one of the researchers points out:

“Talking with friends and family at home is a completely different dimension from what we do in therapy,” said Cherney. “Having a detailed understanding of patients’ communication habits outside of the clinic helps us develop better strategies with our patients to improve their speaking skills and speed up their recovery process.”

Moreover, speech therapists can use the information to pinpoint the best times of day for therapy, or better understand how an individual uses language throughout the day.



  • Anonymous
    March 14, 2018 at 8:50 am

    My wife has Alzheimer and Aphasia. Is there any way she can get help with her speech. I would appreciate if anything that can be done for her.


  • Maureen McCarron, MA
    March 14, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Please send me links to peer-reviewed literature that describes how these sensors’ are being used in speech and swallowing Tx!

  • braininjurysupportgr
    March 14, 2018 at 9:54 am

    This was very informative, especially the aspects of speech and swallowing. I have a TBI and aphasia as a result. Sometimes I have difficulty swallowing, and it is fascinating to put the speech and swallowing actions hand in hand. God bless you and thank you for this important information!

  • Joy Leland
    March 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

    I would love to know more about this. My sister, now age 65, had a massive stroke at age 62 and now suffers from Aphasia. Everything she says comes out sounding like some version of “Ah-doo”, or “Oh-dee”. She was a “talker” pre-stroke, it was her favorite activity; talking to friends on the phone, stopping by to chat, etc. Now that’s gone and she is isolated because people are uncomfortable and don’t know how to respond to her. It’s heartbreaking as her caregiver to watch her struggle with this.

  • Linda Gordon
    March 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    how do you get into wearable study or a place that uses it. I am located in Iowa

  • Mark Swearingen
    March 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I would like more info please

  • Elizabeth Stanley
    March 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Sounds great. How do I go about getting my mom one of these? She has worked her way up from skilled nursing to assisted living. She gets speech therapy, but it is not progressing very well. My mom gets real frustrated when she can’t tell you what she means; either in person or on the phone. She had her stroke in June of 2016. I work all the time but would love to figure out how I can help my mom speak better and help her feel better about her speech. I try to encourage her all the time. She learns a new word and sometimes can say it and sometimes not. This is how it has been for a long time. Other things she cannot say at all. I always can figure out what she is trying to say. Anyway, any suggestions or this therapy sensor would be great. Does insurance pay for this device?

  • Linda Gordon
    March 14, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Are these functioning now or in testing stage – How can we get information. I am really interested in thing because when he is a therapy he reacts differently than in the “REAL” world. My husband and I want to participate in this. How far away would we have to go?

  • Jeanne
    March 14, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I have speech problems it especially difficult talking on telephone . What is best mechanism to use to speak clearer on telephone?

    March 14, 2018 at 10:55 pm


  • Sheila King
    March 15, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    I had my stroke 39 yrs ago, and I still struggle with aspasia. Some people can understand me, but most do not. Is there anything to me?
    Thank you

  • Angela
    March 15, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Very interested in this study! My mother had a severe stroke in May 2017 (age 81) and has global aphasia, along with right side weakness, in which neither have not responded to therapy. If there was anything I could change, it would be her speech, so we would be able to communicate better with her. I am her full-time caregiver, so it is very frustrating for her (and us) when we can’t understand what she is trying to tell us.

  • Rori McPhilliamy
    March 28, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Would love to see any studies being conducted with these surface EMGs. Please send if available.

  • Dennis
    April 24, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    My wife has aphasia due to CBD, a degenerative brain disease…and will NOT get better, I am trying to improve her quality of life and don’t know where to turn…..any suggestions would be appreciated and would be very thankful….

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