15. Feb. 2024

Neuroscientists at CEITEC Masaryk University have successfully tested a new therapy that combines home brain stimulation with online speech therapy support. This innovative method, using a portable stimulator and special speech therapy techniques, has shown significant improvement in speech difficulties associated with Parkinson's disease. The researchers are now looking for volunteers suffering from the disease for the next phase of the project.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, some of the symptoms of which, such as tremors, can be significantly alleviated by medication, but other symptoms cannot be greatly affected by conventional drugs. One such symptom is problems with the volume and fluency of speech. Scientists at CEITEC have shown in the past that it is possible to improve patients' speech by using fast magnetic pulses (transcranial magnetic stimulation). The disadvantage of this non-invasive method, however, is that the stimulation cannot be carried out at home and the patient must go to a specialised centre.

Luboš Brabenec from CEITEC Masaryk University has therefore followed up this research with a new project in which a small portable stimulator based on weak direct current plays the main role. Patients involved in the research use this device in their home environment and combine the treatment with online speech therapy. This eliminates the often difficult commute and allows patients from distant parts of the country to participate in the research.

"Handling the electrical stimulator is very simple and safe," says Luboš Brabenec. "The patient has the intensity and duration of stimulation preset by the researcher in the stimulator and this therapy is complemented by work with a speech therapist who has a special course focused on improving speech in Parkinson's patients," adds the researcher.

The results of this innovative approach are evaluated not only through speech therapy examinations of patients, but also through acoustic analysis (in collaboration with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication Technologies at Brno University of Technology) and analysis of MRI data. At this stage of the research, the researchers now have the first results showing that the patients' home therapy significantly improves their speech problems. Subjective improvement is also seen by the study participants: "I used to work as a tour guide at the castle and my voice deteriorated significantly during my illness. Thanks to my participation in the study, I can speak loudly and clearly again," confirms one patient.

The combination of speech therapy with non-invasive brain stimulation is a novelty in the world of neuroscience, and researchers at CEITEC Masaryk University are looking more broadly at improving the language and speech aspects of Parkinson's disease. Luboš Brabenec's colleague, Ľubomíra Nováková, is focusing on understanding more complex sentences and bringing research that has so far been conducted in English-speaking countries to the Czech environment. The Czech language environment has its own specifics, for example, flexible verb phrasing makes it difficult for Parkinsonian speakers to understand sentences in which the agent of action does not stand in the first place. "Our research will try to decipher the mechanisms underlying this ability," explains Ľubomíra Nováková, who will also work with a method of non-invasive brain stimulation in the home environment to try to improve these dysfunctions. It is also possible to enrol in this study via the contact details below.

If you suffer from Parkinson's disease and would like to participate in any of the above mentioned research, please contact the research project leader Luboš Brabenec.


Luboš Brabenec, Ph.D.
Luboš Brabenec, Ph.D. Junior Staff Scientist
Phone: +420 54949 7643
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