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Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences professor receives U.S. patent

Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale

June 17, 2021

By Kelsey Pritchett

The Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences is excited to share that Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale, assistant professor of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, was part of a team of inventors who recently received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office.

The team consisted of two speech-language pathologists, Kuruvilla-Dugdale and Teresa Lever of the School of Medicine, and two engineers, Filiz Bunyak and Yunxin Zhao of the College of Engineering. The speech-language pathologists identified the health care need and business potential; the engineers developed the software system.

“Clinician-scientist collaborations are critical to developing feasible solutions for clinical problems,” said Dr. Kuruvilla-Dugdale.

The software program is the first to provide objective assessment and monitoring of tongue dysfunction caused by neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and multiple sclerosis. Current diagnostic methods are subjective and therefore prone to inaccuracy, which can lead to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. The new product provides a low-cost, easy-to-use software solution for a series of widely used tongue performance tasks to obtain objective data during patient visits. This enables earlier and improved detection, treatment and monitoring of outcomes. Early intervention is especially important for individuals with progressive neurological disorders because it is shown to improve quality of life and survival.

In addition to clinical settings, the software could be used to detect sports concussions during athletic events or fatigue and substance abuse by law enforcement and safety regulatory agencies.  

Patent number U.S. 10959661 was made possible through the MU Coulter Translational Partnership Program. The team is currently working to identify industry partners for product commercialization. 

Congratulations, Dr. Kuruvilla-Dugdale!