Friday, May 13, 2005

The Kassel Stuttering Therapy

Last March, I was in Kassel and did an independent study of the KST data with respect to outcome but also on the profile of the KST patients. The outcome measure project is directed by Prof. Harald Euler of the University of Kassel. I stayed at his home, and I must say that he is very good cook! :-) At ODC 2005, I will not talk about the outcome study which Harald will present, but on the profile of the patients themselves.

Here is a description of the Kassel Stuttering Therapy (KST):

"The Kassel Stuttering Therapy is a fluency shaping approach which consists of a 3-week in-patient intensive treatment and a 1-year relapse prevention programme. Treatment is composed of speech modification (mainly prolongation), intensification with desensitization, and application (transfer). A computer programme guides through lessons of increasing demand. The client speaks into a microphone, watches the voice curve and evaluates the utterance, followed by an evaluation by the computer which considers gentle onset, syllable prolongation, and smooth intonation. The visual feedback enables the clients to correct the utterance immediately. After the treatment phase of extreme prolongation to 2 sec per syllable the speech rate is gradually increased to one-half second per syllable. The intensive solitary speech training is embedded in non-avoidance treatment principles, common therapeutic practices and training in relaxation, proper breathing, and speech proprioception, mostly in group situations. During the application phase, after a further increase in speech rate, the newly acquired speech pattern is practiced in a variety of speech situations with increasing communicative demands. Relapse prevention includes daily home practice at the computer in decreasing amounts of time until the end of the first year, and two 3-day refresher courses. The daily home practice sessions are recorded on disk, mailed in, and inspected by the therapist." (Author: Prof. Harald Euler)

The current findings suggest that the therapy is relatively successful in DECREASING stuttering severity in patients over the long-term. Of course, measuring sucess is a bit of a pandora box. I'll keep it closed for the time being. OK?

Actually, I could be a bit cheeky and note that the secret of the long-term success is not included in the description above. Namely, the patients only get the therapy paid by their health service IF AND ONLY IF they can show that they practise x amount with the software over a period of one year!!!!!! So there is a real incentive to practise, which is good. But I guess such tactics can only exist in Germany... but I support this practise!

But this had led to some strange avoidance pattern. I was told that one patient recruited his 90 year-old grand-mum to do the daily practise for him!!!! :-D

Tomorrow, I will talk about the software.


1 comment:

Dave Rowley said...


Maybe people don't know how to leave comments. It's not intuitive that you have to click on the text that says '# comments'! It actually looks just like the count, not a link.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing more about The KASSEL STUTTERING THERAPY at Oxford. Do you think there are any brain changes before and after!?