Improving the clinical utility of diadochokinetic tasks for early detection of neurological tongue dysfunction
Previous work in our lab identified significant differences in tongue function between healthy young (i.e., 20-49 years of age) and healthy old (i.e., 50-89 years of age) participants. While data collection was efficient and easy to do, manual data analysis was labor intensive and delayed study completion. The first goal of this study was to expand upon the data set from the initial study to include participant data representing each decade of adult life, 20-89 (i.e., 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s). This study focuses on two diadochokinetic (DDK) tasks (one speech and one non-speech) and a test of tongue strength. The two DDK tasks were chosen for inclusion because the acoustic waveforms produced by the task events were most conducive to automated analysis, the successful implementation of which was the second goal of this study. Statistical comparisons of manual analysis results revealed significant differences for adults in their 70s and 80s when compared to younger age groups. Specifically, participants in these older age groups produced significantly slower speech and non-speech DDK rates, and participants in their 80s had significantly decreased tongue strength. We also found that automated quantification of DDK event production is feasible for incorporation into clinical practice. These findings hold promise in our efforts to create a mobile health application that can be used for early detection of neurologic conditions and objective quantification of tongue function.