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Lingraphica's ASHA Wrap-up, Aphasia Apps Success

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Join Andrew Gomory, Chief Executive Officer of Lingraphica, as we discuss the highlights from ASHA 2012 in Atlanta.

This was the official launch of our new TalkPathSM Suite of Speech Therapy Apps for the iPad. These inventive apps offer therapy activities designed to help people with aphasia or apraxia re-acquire language lost due to stroke or other brain injury.

We'll recap the presentations by Dr. Richard Steele, Lingraphica's Chief Scientist. He conducted 2 presentations this year – a breakout session titled, "Designing Handheld Device Apps for Aphasia Therapy” and a poster board discussion titled, "Improvement Patterns in Severe Chronic Expressive Aphasia Following SGD Use".

Andrew will also go over some of the high-level issues and thinking he is seeing in the quest to help those with aphasia and apraxia.


0:22 Steve St. Clair

Welcome back to Lingraphica Radio. My name is Steve St. Clair. With us today is Andrew Gomory, CEO of Lingraphica, here to offer insights and a recap of ASHA 2012. Welcome Andrew.

0:34 Andrew Gomory

Hey, good morning Steve.

0:36 Steve St. Clair

So for those listening in who might not know, ASHA is the largest trade show dedicated to speech-language pathologists and there were about 12, 000 of those in attendance, right Andrew?

0:45 Andrew Gomory

That's about right. Yeah, the show -- so within that range. It's a large conference.

0:51 Steve St. Clair

Now, you had a big announcement at ASHA, the launch of the new TalkPath Suite of Speech Therapy Apps for the iPad. How did that go?

0:59 Andrew Gomory

Well, it was really a big deal for us. We've been working on these apps for about the last nine months so this is a big absolutely -- white board clean and start over. So yeah, big deal for us and we're pleased to say they were really well received. I think at a few levels, the SOP seemed to really appreciate the design we put a lot into making this aphasia-friendly so a lot of design work went in. The content of the apps themselves in terms of therapeutic content, I think, was also well received and as well as the types of exercises and the kind of ground that we covered there. There is one for speaking, one for listening, one for reading and one for writing. So, all in all, I felt that couldn't really have gone much better and as I said before, big deal for us. This is a kind of a big step for the company bringing this out.

1:52 Steve St. Clair

I understand that the show being well attended and your booth was even more attended than in previous ASHA shows, is that correct?

2:02 Andrew Gomory

It is and -- yeah, I think our booth attendance was up by yeah, something pretty significant, 25% to 35% which is I think mostly attributable to the apps. I think there's obviously a tremendous interest in the speech pathology world. Most of the apps are around communication and that's something of course that we've covered in the past with our SmallTalk apps, but there is less going on the therapeutic side especially for adults so I think that really caught people's interest. So -- yeah, our booth craft was at the lot, which was really nice because we actually had a somewhat far off location and despite that, had a lot of people come and seek us out which was really gratifying.

2:44 Steve St. Clair

Briefly, can you -- just for those who are tuning in possibly for the first time to the show, can you give us a little bit of an overview about this therapeutic nature of these apps.

2:56 Andrew Gomory

Sure. Well, these apps really go after the basic skills that are compromised when someone has a stroke and has aphasia or sometimes verbal apraxia and so the basics are reading, writing, listening and speaking, with speaking of course being the most important. So they are -- I believe one of the things it features is that they have a very aphasia-friendly look meaning the people with aphasia even at all different sort of levels can operate them by themselves and this goes back to a lot of what we've learned over the last 20 years in designing our devices. These apps also capture everything that everyone does in terms of the data so we actually learn. Every time someone uses one of our apps, we actually -- they're contributing to understanding what could treatment of aphasia is and the other I think sort of critical part of this is they're free. It's a free download with a pretty significant free trial so the people can really determine whether the apps are useful for them or more particularly which apps are useful and then the -- you get the full therapeutic treatment within an app purchase so we think we've made a pretty friendly, easy to try and people get a nice fair trial and then they can decide whether it's right for them.

4:20 Steve St. Clair

That's awesome so since ASHA, how has adoption of the reading, writing, speaking and listening apps entry of that?

4:27 Andrew Gomory

We -- I think right at the week of the show, we got a really nice bumping download, something at that order for about 50% so clearly, a lot of people who were there were trying them. We know -- the nice thing about this is -- everyone is carrying their phone, their iPad around and we know that they would come to the booth, take a look and they would sometimes download them right on the spot. So, one of the gratifying things about the apps is immediately the people can see it and they can just try it right there, but we got a nice little bump from it as we'd hoped.

5:00 Steve St. Clair

Now, you had multiple stations set up at the show too, right? Multiple demonstrations going on.

5:08 Andrew Gomory

Well, that's right.

5:09 Steve St. Clair

So you got instant feedback.

5:10 Andrew Gomory

Yeah. Of course, the apps and the therapeutic side of the business is very exciting and new force, but you know what we have been for the last 22 some odd years is a company that makes speech-generating devices and so we were --it was really nice to be able to show two really significant new products in that area, both of which -- neither of which are commercially available yet although they will be shortly. One is a 7-inch tablet. Our existing tablet is 10 inches. 7-inch has really got a lot to offer. I think everyone is finding that 10-inch tablet is great, but 7-inch is even more portable. For women, it's the kind of thing that slips easily into a purse. For a clinician, it is the kind of thing that slips easily into a lab coat and there is a reason that Apple brought out the iPad mini. I think the 7-inch has something to say for it. So we've brought our speech-generating device on a 7-inch tablet that will be available within probably very early next year and then we prototyped another device. There is a whole new category of devices out there called Ultrabooks which really combined a large tablet experience with a clamshell laptop and it's what we've, in some ways, been manufacturing on our own for these last few years, making touch screen laptops, but these Ultrabooks are even better. They are lightweight, they're sleek, they start quickly because they're all solid estate and what's really nice about them is they convert into a number of different positions so they can work like a classic clamshell laptop. For people who want the keyboard, they fold all the way into a tablet which is great for either working on your lap or mounting on a wheelchair and they also have a nice standup position which is so that if you're working with it on a table, typically our patients do with one hand. You're looking straight into the screen and you have a nice solid tapping surface and they're actually bigger than the 10-inch devices. The screen is about 11-1/2 inches.

7:08 Andrew Gomory

So they give you even more screen real estate. So people were pretty excited about that and that's something that we will be looking at probably some time in the first half of next year, but it was very nice to get such a positive reaction to those devices and to have something new on the device side as well as on the therapy side so in that way, we talked a lot about having a -- sort of complete spectrum and smoothened up solution for people with aphasia and it was nice to be able to show some new stuff in multiple areas and really show people what we're talking about.

7:45 Steve St. Clair

I'm sure people are excited to get to play with them right on the spot because it sounds like a lot of fun.

7:51 Andrew Gomory

Yeah that's always -- but I think that's the fun part of going to one of these shows. It's one thing to read about and look at it, but in your hands on it, it is really fun.

7:59 Steve St. Clair

Well, and also I think people -- we've been talking about this before, you and I, about I think people are a little bit nervous possibly, some people, especially those who are in the older categories among us two or even people on my age who are getting older which basically looking at a computer and saying "Can I do this? Can I actually do this?" So when they actually see the demo, they very quickly realize and imagine how easy it is to use what Lingraphica has made.

8:29 Andrew Gomory

I think that is exactly right and one of the things that I think we have really struggled with over the years is people -- if you weren't using a computer before you had a stroke, it's kind of a tough sell to be able to say well that computer you never really wanted to use, now you had a stroke and everything is harder -- it's probably be a great thing for you now. So -- but typically then when people use it, they say, oh I have no idea it was so easy. I thought this was going to be really complicated and hard. It is a big challenge to overcome that initial trepidation which we know was out there and it's totally understandable. We do have a few ideas around that that we will be probably talking about in the upcoming months, but we're going to try and make real assimilations of our devices that people could download for free or use over the internet to make it really easy for people to see how easy it is without actually having to either get to a conference or borrow one of our devices. So that's something we're -- I think the new technology is going to afford as the ability to do because we know that when people try it they like it. The hard part is how can we make it really easy for people to try it?

9:40 Steve St. Clair

Now at the show is Dr. Richard Steele, Lingraphica's Chief Scientist who had two presentations, correct? A session entitled Designing Handheld Device Apps for Aphasia Therapy and in the course of our discussion entitled Improvement Patterns in Severe Chronic Expressive Aphasia Following SGD Use.

10:00 Steve St. Clair

I notice the theme in those too (crosstalk).

10:04 Andrew Gomory

I am glad you did.

10:05 Steve St. Clair

Yeah, once I got through the lengthy titles, but it seemed to me sounds like once -- basically, use of your products leads to improvement beyond and even just to the speech-generating devices which are -- I'm sure you originally intended just to generate speech.

10:23 Andrew Gomory

Well you're right and you know looking back in this history of Lingraphica and this is long before I got here, the original Lingraphicas were there to compensate for a lack of speech, they were, in fact they used to be called a language prosthesis back in the early days. And what they discovered was that if you use this device and talk for you that involve constructing sentences yourself because you wanted to say things that you wanted to say. Your actual ability to produce natural language improved as well and that was really what led the company to have, to get into the therapeutic side of things as well as the support of our prosthetic side. If I could just sort of ramble for a second, this is -- I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with some about these exact topic, this is where language and speech are really different from other kinds of durable medical equipment and other kinds or rehab. You know, if you break that leg or you hurt your leg, you can either walk on crutches, there is your prosthetic or you can get on the stationary bicycle and do rehab. They're really separate world. Getting on a stationary bike does not get you anywhere and walking with crutches does not help you leg at all, it does not make it stronger. Language is just not that simple. If you are using a communication device, it helps your natural language. When you do speech therapy, it actually helps your ability to use one of these other devices, it is of stimulation of the language centers in your brain and it all helps, so it is a very much more mixed world and unfortunately, some of the physical analogies would be just believe. But the things that Dr. Steele was hitting on are really two of the central things for __12:05__ but I think they are somewhat distinguishing. He was talking about design elements and we touched on that a little earlier but we really have learned a lot over the years and I would say even especially recently about what makes things easy for people to use, satisfying and enjoyable, it has got to be fun.

12:22 Andrew Gomory

You have also got to eliminate the frustration on the downside, people cannot be getting stuck or confused and the other part is that people actually do get better and that is something that has been a core to the company for a long time. We collect data. But the period of 1995 to 2000, we started about 2000 people in therapy clinics working with our devices and kept all that data and showed that they actually got better, and we are continuing that with out apps. When people opt in, we collect all the data on every click they make, we see the results and the outcomes of the progress they make and that allows us then to improve the products and to see which exercises are more effective and which are less effective. So we have always been very data-driven and research-driven and we are continuing to do that.

13:09 Steve St. Clair

You mentioned Dr. Steele again in the chat you had and he is certainly one of your leading thought leaders in Lingraphica. It shows of trying to have a great deal of thought leaders from what I have seen and walking around and listening to some of those presentations. You must have picked it up on a lot of the trends and insights in the world of the SLP.

13:31 Andrew Gomory

Yeah, well you know the nice thing about the ASHA Convention is that it really brings out a lot of the big thinkers. There were some really interesting ones. There is an SLP named Nancy __13:43__ who is doing some really interesting work with our devices in an area completely unrelated to we mostly think of. She uses hers mostly with teenagers with autism and certain patients in that spectrum for home. The video modeling that we make very, very simple and easy to create, easy to store and easy to ring back are the perfect things and she did a wonderful presentation about that, but if I look at the big trends that I saw, apps, iPads are simply continuing to grow in popularity and as well as variety. You know, when you look at the vendors who were there, there continue to be more and more app makers, the companies that do other things like yourselves are all getting into apps as well, so I was taking the iPad app. Tidal wave continues to roll along. One of the interesting things I also noticed was that last year was the first year that there were any telemedicine vendors and there were about five of them. This year there were only two. I personally think that telemedicine has a lot of promise in general and it is actually going to be very significant for speech language pathology, but I took that as a little bit of a sign that the business may not be there yet, even though I think as a practice, it certainly holds tremendous promise both for practitioners and for patients.

15:13 Steve St. Clair

Well, it allows more current track at lower cost also, right?

15:18 Andrew Gomory

Absolutely, and you know, the things that are -- there is so many patients and we see lots of them who -- of course the people on rural areas for home simply, it is a long drive or a long, just hard to get to a therapist, but it is just as true for people in urban areas. There are just many people with post stroke with aphasia who find it very difficult to get to a doctor's office and they may not be disabled enough to have home health care but just transportation may be a real issue for them. So I think it is -- ultimately, I think it is going to be a very, very big deal. There are some very real things in the way right now, the payment, Medicare does not yet pay for this kind of treatment so I think that may be one of the reasons that we are seeing it be slower to develop than I and other people had anticipated.

16:08 Steve St. Clair

And that brings it back to apps because you also mentioned in a pretty good show when people are ready to learn or do therapy is not necessarily coinciding which when they're on their way on their therapist. So these therapy apps are therefore with them anytime they want, right?

16:26 Andrew Gomory

That is really right. You know, people -- when they have a stroke, they come out of acute rehab. Some are just -- it really depends on the severity of their stroke and the kind of support they have and almost their personality. Some people are just recovering and need to relax and pull their lives back together. Other people come out ready to fight from the opening bell. You get a little window of speech therapy right after your stroke and for some people, it is perfect timing, for some people it is not, but the bottom line is almost everybody needs more therapy than they get and we are hoping that these apps will then give people a lifetime of therapy that will continue after their few months of allotted speech therapy that most insurance pay for runs out. That is really our hope is that people can not only do it when they want but forever and that's why our plan is to continue to bring out, keep updating the apps we have out there so that they stay fresh and new for people as well as bringing out more therapeutic apps so that people can continue the rehabilitation for the rest of their lives.

17:36 Steve St. Clair

Well Andrew, congratulations on a great show. I know that Twitter is traffic which is something we keep an eye on and was really crossing and as a result, your number of twitter followers jump way up.

17:50 Andrew Gomory

Yeah. I think our guys are really catching on to the whole social media and all the sort of networking stuff which is great. It is obviously the way that we're going to reach a lot of people and I am glad to see us getting savvier about it and having some success with it. Plus it's just fun.

18:08 Steve St. Clair

Absolutely. So to the audience, you can learn more about Lingraphica's TalkPath Suite of Speech Therapy Apps for the iPad at aphasia.com and from there, you can click and go right over to the app store to download all four free trial versions, that word again FREE. The free trial versions of reading, writing, speaking and listening apps and certainly follow us on Twitter and Facebook and keep up with the blog on the website. Website again is aphasia.com. Andrew, thanks for your time. It sounds like it was a terrific show and congratulations.

18:44 Andrew Gomory

Thanks, Steve. Pleasure talking with you.

18:46 Steve St. Clair

Alright, talk to you soon.

18:47 Andrew Gomory


18:48 Steve St. Clair

Bye everybody.

18:49 Andrew Gomory

Bye, bye.