Intensive treatment with ultrasound visual feedback for speech sound errors in childhood apraxia

Jonathan L. Preston, Megan C. Leece, Edwin Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Ultrasound imaging is an adjunct to traditional speech therapy that has shown to be beneficial in the remediation of speech sound errors. Ultrasound biofeedback can be utilized during therapy to provide clients with additional knowledge about their tongue shapes when attempting to produce sounds that are erroneous. The additional feedback may assist children with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) in stabilizing motor patterns, thereby facilitating more consistent and accurate productions of sounds and syllables. However, due to its specialized nature, ultrasound visual feedback is a technology that is not widely available to clients. Short-term intensive treatment programs are one option that can be utilized to expand access to ultrasound biofeedback. Schema-based motor learning theory suggests that short-term intensive treatment programs (massed practice) may assist children in acquiring more accurate motor patterns. In this case series, three participants ages 10-14 years diagnosed with CAS attended 16 h of speech therapy over a 2-week period to address residual speech sound errors. Two participants had distortions on rhotic sounds, while the third participant demonstrated lateralization of sibilant sounds. During therapy, cues were provided to assist participants in obtaining a tongue shape that facilitated a correct production of the erred sound. Additional practice without ultrasound was also included. Results suggested that all participants showed signs of acquisition of sounds in error. Generalization and retention results were mixed. One participant showed generalization and retention of sounds that were treated; one showed generalization but limited retention; and the third showed no evidence of generalization or retention. Individual characteristics that may facilitate generalization are discussed. Short-term intensive treatment programs using ultrasound biofeedback may result in the acquisition of more accurate motor patterns and improved articulation of sounds previously in error, with varying levels of generalization and retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number440
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG2016
StatePublished - Aug 30 2016


  • Childhood apraxia of speech
  • Intensive treatment program
  • Speech therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Visual feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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