Baseline Stimulability Predicts Patterns of Response to Traditional and Ultrasound Biofeedback Treatment for Residual Speech Sound Disorder

Tara McAllister, Amanda Eads, Heather Kabakoff, Marc Scott, Suzanne Boyce, D. H. Whalen, Jonathan L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aimed to identify predictors of response to treatment for residual speech sound disorder (RSSD) affecting English rhotics. Progress was tracked during an initial phase of traditional motor-based treatment and a longer phase of treatment incorporating ultrasound biofeedback. Based on previous literature, we focused on baseline stimulability and sensory acuity as predictors of interest. Method: Thirty-three individuals aged 9–15 years with residual distortions of /ɹ/ received a course of individual intervention comprising 1 week of intensive traditional treatment and 9 weeks of ultrasound biofeedback treatment. Stimulability for /ɹ/ was probed prior to treatment, after the traditional treatment phase, and after the end of all treatment. Accuracy of /ɹ/ production in each probe was assessed with an acoustic measure: normalized third formant (F3)–second formant (F2) distance. Model-based clustering analysis was applied to these acoustic measures to identify different average trajectories of progress over the course of treatment. The resulting clusters were compared with respect to acuity in auditory and somatosensory domains. Results: All but four individuals were judged to exhibit a clinically significant response to the combined course of treatment. Two major clusters were identified. The “low stimulability” cluster was characterized by very low accuracy at baseline, minimal response to traditional treatment, and strong response to ultrasound biofeedback. The “high stimulability” group was more accurate at baseline and made significant gains in both traditional and ultrasound biofeedback phases of treatment. The clusters did not differ with respect to sensory acuity. Conclusions: This research accords with clinical intuition in finding that individuals who are more stimulable at baseline are more likely to respond to traditional intervention, whereas less stimulable individuals may derive greater relative benefit from biofeedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2860-2880
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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