New device helps stop stuttering

Marilyn Monroe, James Earl Jones, Carly Simon, Winston Churchill and Mel Tillis all suffered from it.

Today, more than 68 million people worldwide deal with it, and it affects four-times as many men as women.

I am talking about stuttering.

There is no known single cause, but there are several effective treatments, and the newest one is helping to stop stuttering for good.

Kings suffered from stuttering.

The drama that played out in this Oscar-winning performance is what Dave Barnett lived with every day of his life.

Barnett said, "I had people laugh at me, mock me. It was rough."

And he would have never read a book to his son.

Barnett said, "He was looking at me differently. He was trying to figure out is that the way daddy talks."

The word seven was particularly hard for him, but not anymore.

Another tough word for him was firefighter.

After speech therapy and even hypnosis, Dave has now found his voice with this small hearing-aid type device.

Henry Ford Hospital Speech-Language Pathologist Jennifer Peacock, MA CCC-SLP, said, "For many people, this is their last resort. I've tried everything else."

Speech Pathologists at the Henry Ford Hospital are using the SpeechEasy to not amplify sound, but instead, alter it, echoing a person's voice in a different pitch, with a very slight delay.

Peacock said, "You're hearing your voice just milliseconds after you actually say it. And the change in frequency makes you feel like you're talking to another person instead of just listening to your own voice."

Barnett said, "As I speak, there's a computer voice in my ear, which I hear all day long."

It creates a choral effect, which resembles when you speak or sing in unison with others, allowing Dave to speak without stuttering.

A lesson learned from kings, to the common man.

Barnett said, "It's completely changed my life."

Everyone should be heard.

Fiona Barnett said, "He loves reading stories. He'll just keep on reading stories. It's cute."

A study at Henry Ford Hospital showed that 57-percent of the people who tried the device ended up purchasing it.

That does not mean it did not work for more patients, because the device is expensive.

It costs up to $5,000 and insurance often does not cover it.


BACKGROUND: SpeechEasy is a portable and inconspicuous device that is designed to enhance fluency for people who stutter. According to the National Institute of Deafness and other Communications Disorders, stuttering occurs most often in children between the ages of two and five. Developmental stuttering occurs while children are still learning speech skills. Neurogenic stuttering happens as a result of a brain injury and psychogenic stuttering is caused by emotional trauma. There is no cure for stuttering, so it is often treated with drug therapy, self help groups, and or specialized devices, like SpeechEasy. SpeechEasy was first offered in 2001. It was developed by a team of researchers at East Carolina University. The device is currently available at more than 130 locations nationwide, and is widely used in other countries.

THE DEVICE: The SpeechEasy device looks similar to a hearing aid. However, unlike a hearing aid the device doesn't amplify sounds. Instead it alters sounds that go through it, so that an individual can hear their voice at a slight time delay and at a different pitch. The reason for the delay and pitch change is to recreate what is called "choral effect." The choral effect is a well-documented, natural phenomenon that occurs when an individual's stutter is reduced or even eliminated when they speak or sing in unison with other people.

SpeechEasy comes in four different models which are tailored and programmed for each individual user. The first style is the Comfort Fit. This model type features a natural sound passage, and reduced background noise. The next is the Completely- in-Canal model. It is the smallest fluency device available, and is more discreet than the other models. The third is the In-the-Canal model, which has an easily accessible volume control. The final model type is the Behind-the- Ear model which is good for dexterity issues, and is supposed to be very durable. In order to obtain a device, consumers must first set up an appointment with a SpeechEasy provider. All SpeechEasy Providers are licensed, American Speech Language Association certified pathologists. During the first appointment, the provider will help the individual user decide which model type is most appropriate. The device costs between $4,100 and $5,100 depending on the model. (SOURCE:

RESULTS: According to SpeechEasy's client satisfaction poll, Over 75 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their decision to get the device. Nearly 85 percent said they would recommend it to others, and more than 70 percent indicated that SpeechEasy had made a positive to very positive impact on their life. (SOURCE:

Jennifer Peacock, M.A., CCC-SLP
Henry Ford Hospital
(313) 916-4612

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