Detection of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) via acoustic analysis
ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no cure. Experts typically measure disease progression via the ALSFRS-R score, which includes measurements of various abilities known to decline. We propose instead the use of speech analysis as a proxy for ALS progression. This technique enables 1) frequent non-invasive, inexpensive, longitudinal analysis, 2) analysis of data recorded in the wild, and 3) creation of an extensive ALS databank for future analysis. Patients and trained medical professionals need not be co-located, enabling more frequent monitoring of more patients from the convenience of their own homes. The goals of this study are the identification of acoustic speech features in naturalistic contexts which characterize disease progression and development of machine models which can recognize the presence and severity of the disease. We evaluated subjects from the Prize4Life Israel dataset, using a variety of frequency, spectral, and voice quality features. The dataset was generated using the ALS Mobile Analyzer, a cellphone app that collects data regarding disease progress using a self-reported ALSFRS-R questionnaire and several active tasks that measure speech and motor skills. Classification via leave-five-subjects-out cross-validation resulted in an accuracy rate of 79% (61% chance) for males and 83% (52% chance) for females.