A feasibility study is now underway at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, located in Nashville, Tennessee, with Liopa’s SRAVI lipreading app. The study began in October 2022 and will run through the first half of 2023.
In this pilot trial, SRAVI’s lipreading ability is being tested with patients who have undergone a total laryngectomy (TL), or complete removal of the voice box. The aim of the study is to determine if SRAVI can help these patients communicate with their healthcare givers and loved ones during their early recovery after this life-altering surgery. The study is also looking at whether SRAVI can improve mental health and wellbeing in this patient population, by providing them with a novel communication platform.
A TL is a common treatment for patients with advanced laryngeal cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 184,615 people were diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 2020. This year, an estimated 12,470 adults (9,820 men and 2,650 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. [Source: Cancer.net].
While it is a potentially lifesaving surgery, TL results in a loss of natural voice, giving patients a new struggle to cope with, as they suffer from reduced communication with their loved ones, healthcare providers and others. It has been reported in previous research studies that 22-30% of laryngectomy patients experience depression and anxiety, and 40% withdraw socially. [References below]
Voice rehabilitation options are limited with TL patients, and doctors at Vanderbilt have concluded that “there is an urgent need for novel mechanisms of communication in the postoperative TL patient.”
SRAVI was discovered by the Vanderbilt research team after a Google search for automated lipreading applications. This feasibility study – led by Mr. Shreyas G. Krishnapura, Dr. Daniel Sharbel, and Dr. Michael C. Topf will be followed up by a larger, randomized, controlled study, to be conducted across multiple sites including Augusta University Medical Center.
“We are collaborating on this important research to see how much our patients may benefit from this technology, and we look forward to the ongoing collaboration with the Liopa team. We hope to improve the overall ability of TL patients to communicate post-surgically,” said Michael Topf, MD Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
More about SRAVI
The SRAVI lipreading app was developed by Liopa in partnership with Dr. Shondipon Laha and his team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, borne out of Dr. Laha’s deep frustration at seeing patients on ICU wards that were unable to use their voice, but were mouthing words at their doctors and nurses.
The app was designed to help patients who have lost the ability to speak, to communicate with their loved ones & carers. SRAVI is deployed onto a smartphone, and when pointed towards the patient, the app analyses their lip movements to decipher what they are trying to say.
SRAVI works with a constrained vocabulary, and it can understand 40+ phrases at a time. The list comprises phrases that are useful for patients in ICU. These phrases are basic, but essential to the needs of a hospital patient, including: “I need the toilet, ”and, “I’m in pain.” Users can change and add to these phrases depending on their needs.
SRAVI is powered by AI and Machine Learning algorithms. It is built upon Liopa’s award-winning technology for Visual Speech Recognition.
Keszte J, Danker H, Dietz A, et al. Mental disorders and psychosocial support during the first year after total laryngectomy: a prospective cohort study. Clin Otolaryngol. 2013;38(6):494- 501.
Perry A, Casey E, Cotton S. Quality of life after total laryngectomy: functioning, psychological well-being and self-efficacy. Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2015;50(4):467-475.
Danker H, Wollbruck D, Singer S, Fuchs M, Brahler E, Meyer A. Social withdrawal after laryngectomy. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010;267(4):593-600.