Smartphone Challenges


I recently posted a video about Android file management and stated that I was experiencing a particularly hard time doing this on my phone. Yet I believe that a smartphone can play an important part in enhancing the quality of life for pwp (people with Parkinson’s). In this post I want to draw attention to the challenges pwp face. I include the video again for reference.

Voice Issues

On the left side of your brain there’s a special region called Broca and Wernicke areas also known as the speech centers of the brain.

There are two functions,
1) interpreting sounds as words and understanding the resulting speech in real time, and
2) taking thoughts and turning them into words/sentences and making the mouth, throat and voice box muscles turn them into sound, also in real time.

As part of our learning process growing up, very complex neuron connections have been constructed in these centres.

As the neurons progressively die, the brain compensates by roping in the neurons that are left, this is part of brain plasticity. But it takes time for the brain to do this (hence the need for voice therapy), and while a pwp is trying to say something, the brain just does not have enough resources to compensate, especially if you are already multi-tasking. So the speech process gets interrupted, often randomly. You may not be able to find a word that you used even seconds ago. Or your voice box does not receive the right instructions in time leading to stuttering or really slow speech.

Your brain prioritizes its available resources just getting the words out – adding intonation, feeling, and sound quality is a luxury – let alone having resources for making matching facial expressions.

The most frequently reported speech problems are:

  • weak, hoarse, nasal or monotonous voice
  • imprecise articulation
  • slow or fast speech
  • difficulty starting speech
  • impaired stress or rhythm
  • stuttering and tremor

You should be able to identify most of these problems in the video. I believe the making of the video is in itself a complex task requiring a lot of physical and mental multi-tasking.

There are similar challenges on the listening side making it difficult to understand what someone is saying.

Physical Challenges

It is quite difficult working with the various controls of the programs. Having the s-pen or a stylus makes it easier but your involuntary movements often cause you to touch things by accident. This causes you to mistype or select the wrong commands, deselecting something that you have just spent a lot of time selecting.

The Scenario

One is using a piece of software that you are trying to explain, like the Gallery app in this case, while you are recording your screen movements using the AZ Screen Recorder app, while holding the phone “steady” in your hand to demo taking photos and videos. Then you have to bring it into PowerDirector to do the final editing.

Editing the recorded video

Funny isn’t it? When you have messed up the project multiple times and having to clean out files and re-record everything, believe me the frustration level is so high that it is hard to see the humor in it.

I had intended to improve the video improving the sound, cutting out the really bad parts and use graphics to highlight specific points. I just did not have the courage.