FAYETTE COUNTY, Georgia – Your voice could help diagnose anything from cancer to Alzheimer’s to depression.
The technology is already in use in Georgia. An Atlanta start-up, TQIntelligence, has created an app that uses speech samples and artificial intelligence to help diagnose mental health problems in children.
There is also a large project underway to help doctors diagnose and treat several common diseases.
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“I was terrified,” Roger Cochran said of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis three years ago. “I had this vision of what it meant to have Alzheimer’s, which is to be completely incompetent.”
His wife Dorothy Merrick began to notice small changes.
“I’ve seen memory loss in his social behavior of not wanting to come with me to perhaps some social functions,” said Merrick.
The Fayette County couple are tackling their diagnosis together. Merrick writes each day’s agenda on a chalkboard near their back door to help Cochran remember what he should do.
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Dr. Yael Bensoussan of the University of South Florida in Tampa is looking into Alzheimer’s and other diseases as a co-leader of Voice as a Biomarker for Health. He is part of a four-year project of the National Institutes of Health.
The goal is “… to develop a large-scale database of human voices linked to other health biomarkers,” said Dr Bensoussan.
She and researchers from 11 other universities and hospitals will use an app to collect speech samples. The samples will go through AI analysis to identify signs of the disease such as slow speech.
They will be used to diagnose and treat five categories: speech, neurological, respiratory, psychiatric and speech disorders of children.
“Looking specifically at autism and language delay,” Bensoussan said.
He said bioethics are involved to protect patient privacy.
“They need to know that their health information doesn’t flow everywhere around the word,” Bensoussan said.
He sees this as a tool that will lead to earlier diagnoses.
“I think it’s great. I think the more we learn about a disease… the better it can be, ”Merrick said.
Voice and artificial intelligence are also being used in an app to help children with mental health problems created by Atlanta-based start-up TQIntelligence. Therapists collect information such as a child’s diagnosis and background along with voice samples to identify children in crisis and treat them.
“We focus on three of the negative emotions: anger, right? Fear and sadness, “said Yared Alemu, Ph.D. the Founder and CEO of TQIntelligence.
He hopes the app will help these children become healthy and productive.
“You can change the trajectory from maladaptive behavior, from school dropout … you can have a productive member of society,” said Alemu.
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Right now, a local home counseling agency is using the app as well as schools outside of Georgia.
“So, we currently work in 60 schools. That number will continue to grow, ”said Mark Feinberg, Chief Operating Officer of TQIntelligence.
Daijah is a nurse who works part-time at Chris 180, a behavioral health agency. She received counseling for trauma and general anxiety through Chris 180.
Although Daijah hasn’t used this app, he thinks it can make a big difference. “It is difficult to communicate feelings. And if you can gather data based on how, the sound of my voice and the way I’m saying things is great, ”Daijah said.
The CEO of TQIntelligence said his app is 80% accurate. It is also used to monitor whether patients are making progress in their treatment.
The company has some big investors. Google, Blue Cross, and the National Science Foundation have invested approximately $ 1.5 million to develop this technology.
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