ForBrain… to be continued

Many children, or adults for that matter, with CP have issues with speech.  Whether it be poor muscle control of the mouth, tongue and voicebox or issues with rhythm or speed it can often make it hard to fathom, often causing frustration.  All children develop speech at a very individual rate and are not easily comparable at the best of times.

Charlie is quite lucky- for the most part his speech is good, he has been discharged from Speech and Language therapy.  He sometimes drawls, sometimes he mispronounces or has poor articulation but I think he struggles with the rhythm most.  Charlie often puts pauses in inappropriate places or appears to get stuck mid-sentance and as he gets tired or very excited his voice ‘slides off’.

With Charlie’s brain damage it could easily be argued that the pathways vital to speech production and rhythm could be incomplete or poorly developed.  In an effort to strengthen these I stumbled upon a piece of kit I thought we could try… the ForBrain  (thank you Charlie’s Challenge).  Using neuro-plastic (brain-change) principles it can use auditory stimulus to help ‘calm’ a ‘noisy brain’.

As an Audiologist I know and understand the importance of sensory processing in a developing brain, let alone a damaged one.

The simple idea of the ForBrain is that it helps create a feedback loop withinForBrain the body to help it become aware of itself- possibly promoting changes within the brain.  It is based on the prinicples of an eminent ENT doctor, Tomatis- who himself suffered terrible dyslexia before becoming a highly regarded physician.

By amplifying Charlie’s voice it makes him more aware of his own sound- he can hear his pronunciation and also the rhythm of his speech enabling him to make changes to it in ‘real-time’.  It also digitally filters the sound, ‘gaiting’ to subtly adjust the output.  By ‘gaiting’ the sound it randomly alters the pitch to create a simple change.  By regularly but subtly changing the sound in Charlie’s ear it keeps his brains attention on his voice.  This attentioning helps his brain concentrate on the sound and helps him learn to listen.

Charlie wearing ForBrainThe kit involves a set of sports-style headphones that place a small pad on the jaw to ‘vibrate’ the sound into the ear (vibration reaches the cochlea, the organ of hearing, quicker than through the air), a small filter box and headset microphone.  It is lightweight and unobtrusive Charlie happily wears it, his ‘hearing toy’.

Charlie’s initial progress wiith the device has been noticable- when he wears the ForBrain he spends a good few minutes ‘vocalising’, making random noise, whispering and shouting.  To me (and to a number of other observers) it appears to slow him down and his articulation improves.  The apparatus is used for 15-20mins everyday (suggested)- initially it would seem that gains are limited to when it is used but neuro-plastic priniclples would suggest that increasing use will lead to longer periods of improvement without the kit on.

The literature suggests that the ForBrain is very useful for children with speech and language delay but other, wider literature suggests that its use can be extended to Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and other Sensory Processing Impairments.  The idea being a ‘focused and attending’ brain may deal better with sound sensory stimulus and process it in a more useful way.  The idea of a ‘listening ear’ is the basis of other therapy, like music therapy to develop the brains ability to use sound- it may enable an ‘sensory-overloaded’ ear to be able to cope with sound more meaningfully.

I am optimistic about its use at present- I feel that there is noticable benefit already.  However, I want to use the kit over an extended period to see any real effect.  As promised at the start of this blog if its use appears favourable I will try to find other potential users to help and test its benefit as part of Charlie’s Challenge.  I will update this post as a review as we go along.

It is also meant to help adults concentrate, memorise and focus better with use so I will definitely have a go myself!  The equipment won a prestigious technology award this year at The BETT Show 2015 and has been championed by a number of special needs charities.

Xmas 2017 update

NOTE: Currently the award winning Forbrain has 30% until 12 Dec 2017 off (and free shipping)using this Forbrain order form or by adding affiliation code 3A0500882

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7 thoughts on “ForBrain… to be continued”

  1. Please could you let me know if the ForBrain has made a difference when not worn in helping Charlie or does it only work when he is using it? I’m interested in getting one but I wouldn’t want it to only work when wearing it and to see no improvements over time. Thank you.

    1. Hi Cinda,
      Sorry for the delayed reply- we’ve been fundraising and lots of events have been thick and fast.
      In answer to your question, yes but not straight away. Initially much of any improvement is directly linked with actually use. However, a lot of neuroplastic principles suggest there is a ‘roll-over’ with continued use- the more times it is worn the longer the improvement lasts. It is important to remember though that devices such as the Forbrain are aids to offer opportunity and facilitate change within the individual brain. In my view Charlie was noticeably better as he used the Forbrain and those improvements lasted longer and longer then more times he uses it. It is important to try keep the child entertained by the kit too though, Charlie likes to think of himself as a pilot when he wears it and we try and uses lots of literacy games too.
      Hope this helps. If you are interested in a ForBrain you might find you get a discount if you use this code 3A0500882. There is a money back guarantee if you find your kiddy doesn’t tolerate it too.
      All the best…

  2. Hi, I am looking into forbrain for my child and was wondering if there are additional resources (apart from info from its website) that i could read and get more information about it?

    Also from your post, “The literature suggests that the ForBrain is very useful for children with speech and language delay but other, wider literature suggests that its use can be extended to Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and other Sensory Processing Impairments.” may i know what literature are you referring to?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jenny,
      There are a lot of links to it if you look at the BETT show 2015 where it won an award in the UK and was supported by a number of special needs organisations
      The way I found Forbrain was reading Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Heals Itself- it is a MDs exploration of treatments, therapies and technologies that are cutting edge and outside of the mainstream. One of the chapter’s is written on the ‘Listening Ear’ that Alfred Tomatis invented- Tomatis was eminent ENT surgeon in France who as a child had terrible dyslexia; he helped correct/learn around his issue with sound- specifically using ‘gaiting’ of voice (Gregorian chanting initially). As an audiologist the name Tomatis rang a bell and made me look into the Speech and Language application more carefully. I was actually looking into trying to design a system myself online when I found ‘the Listening Programme’ (iLS) which I found was only available in the US and prohibitive expensive. I found the Forbrain as a cheaper alternative and, as it happens, very effective.
      Looking for literature describing Audio-Vocal feedback often brings up Microphone /Sound feedback but it is a relatively new field for prospective study- is a good start. Other principle that apply are things like the Lombard Effect and the occlusion effect
      I would strongly recommend both of Norman Doidge’s books if you get the opportunity. The other thing I would say relates to tolerance- would your child be happy to wear a headset- some sensory children aren’t. If you can get it on then the tolerance to sound it creates is fantastic- I can certainly speak through experience- Charlie’s rhythm and articulation improve.
      Hope this helps (sorry for the essay…lol)

  3. Hi, thanks for your post, it really helps !

    2 years have passed, do you still use the device ? Did you see any noticeable improvement – you were wondering of the results during an extended use at that time.

    Thanks in advance !

    1. Hi Max,
      Thanks for reading- we do still use the device, more specifically now though.
      Now Charlie is at school he has reading books, spelling cards and phonic games and we tend to stick the Forbrain on particularly when he is doing something new or if he is struggling. School takes away the need for originality in how to use the headset- we just use it as part of homework!
      I do notice an improvement but so do school- despite Charlie’s issues he is doing really well at school and phonetically and grammatically is keeping up with his peers- I think in no small part due to the feedback effect the Forbrain gives. As he is a bit older now he associates it with performing as well so he does enjoy using it.
      Hope this helps…

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