US 3084221 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
April 2, 1963 H. K. COOPER E'ITAL 3,084,221
SPEECH AID Filed March 26, 1959 4f \INVENTORS AZ. 1K Qd fier lid.fio mr&ig,
'BY bull-T5014. G'ww'mlfl' UaTw ATTORNEYS nit taes 3,984,221 SPEECH AID Herbert K. Cooper and Frederic Allan Hofmann, Lancaster, Pa, assignors to Lancaster Cleft Falate Clinic,
Inc, Lmcaster, P2,, a non-profit corporation of Pennsylvania Filed Ma. 26, 195d, Ser. No. 802,114 Claims. (Cl. 1'79l) This invention relates to speech aids for applying an audible signal to the mouth cavity of persons having impaired vocal emission. The primary object of the invention is to provide for such persons a convenient, practical, and reasonably efiicient substitute for the vocal chords in the production of articulate sounds.
In recent years an increasing number of persons have been deprived of the power of speech by surgical removal of the larynx. The larynx contains the vocal chords, which are set in vibration by expiration of air from the lungs to produce an audible sound of controllable frequency in the vocal cavities. This sound is then modulated by appropriate positioning and movement of the vocal organs, principally the tongue, lips, and the soft palate, to form the voice sounds of human speech. It has long been known that if sound of audible frequency is supplied to the oral cavity of a person whose vocal chords are absent, or not functioning, intelligible sounds can be produced by manipulating the vocal organs in the normal manner. Devices heretofore used for supplying the sound have been, however, inadequate, defective, and awkward and uncomfortable in use. It is, there fore, an object of the invention to overcome these difliculties and provide sound generating equipment which is efficient for the intended purpose and which subjects the user to a minimum of discomfort and inconvenience.
Conventional apparatus for supplying sound to the oral cavity of a person deprived of a larynx consists essentially of a generator for wave-form electrical energy, and a transducer or emitter for converting the electrical energy into sound waves of audible frequency within the normal vocal range, preferably projected into the rear of the mouth cavity, whereby more effective use can be made of the vocal organs to modulate the sound for the production of intelligible speech. Various dispositions of the generator and the emitter have been proposed. Usually the generator is worn on the clothing and the emitter is carried in the hand, the sound being projected into the mouth by a sound tube. While this permits control of the sound by manipulation of the emitter, as shown in the patent to Burchett, 1,901,433, granted March 14, 1933, the hands are not free and use of the apparatus is awkward.
It is an object of the instant invention to obviate this defect by feeding the sound through a passage in a bite block, gripped between the teeth or jaws, and thence to the rear of the mouth cavity. The emitter may be mounted conveniently on the block adjacent the cheek; alternatively, it may be carried externally on the person or clothing, the sound being conveyed to the passage in the block by a flexible sound tube passing through the side of the mouth. With either arrangement, a switching device may be incorporated in the block so that the circuit containing the generator and emitter may be controlled by gripping the block more or less firmly between the teeth or jaws. For instance, the switch may be opened when the block is firmly gripped and the generator circuit thereby interrupted, so that sound will be emitted only when needed in the production of speech.
Further objects and features of the invention will be apparent from the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a View, partly in section, of a human 3,fi84,22l Patented Apr. 2, 1953 mouth cavity, showing a bite block embodying the invention in position between the teeth of the upper and lower aws,
FIGURE 2 is an enlarged view taken substantially on line 2--2 of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a sectional view on the line 3--3 of FIGURE 2,
FIGURE 4 is a view similar to FIGURE 1, illustrating the use of a modified structure, and
FIGURE 5 is an enlarged sectional view taken on the line 5-5 of FIGURE 4.
In order to promote an understanding of the invention, reference is made herein to the structures illustrated in the drawing, and specific language is used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be appreciated that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended, but that such alterations and further modifications of the illustrated structures are contemplated as may fall within the spirit and scope of the inventive concept.
In FIGURE 1 there is shown in position between the teeth 1!) and 11 of the upper and lower jaws, respectively, a unit comprising a bite block 15, shown in detail in FIGURES 2 and 3, and an emitter 16, mounted in the bite block 15 for delivering through a tube 18, preferably of metal, and a plastic tube 19 forming an extension of tube 18 an audible signal within the normal vocal range of frequencies. It will be observed that the plastic tube 19 extends to the rear of the mouth cavity, its open end terminating adjacent the soft palate, whereby effective modulation of the signal to produce speech may be achieved by manipulating the mouth, tongue, palate and lips as in the production of natural speech.
The emitter 16 may be of conventional construction; the details thereof form no part of the instant invention and may be modified widely. Its function is to convert electrical wave-form energy supplied to it through conductors 21 into sound waves of a frequency within the usual vocal range. A small diaphragm type of emitter is suitable for the purpose. Preferably the external housing of the emitter is of plastic or other nonconducting material from which the tube 18, extending through the bite block 15, projects for the purpose of conveying the sound wave to the plastic tube 19 and thence to the rear of the mouth cavity. It will be observed that the emitter is positioned at the outer side of the bite block 15 adjacent the check 22 of the user. The bite block may be moulded from rubber or other soft deformable and resilient material, and is preferably shaped to provide a central hub portion 24 for gripping engagement by the teeth, or between the jaws in the absence of teeth, and is flanged at each end as indicated at 25 to prevent unintentional lateral displacement.
The bite block is so moulded as to receive the emitter 16 and tube 18 in the manner shown in FIGURE 2, and to provide a cavity 26 for the reception of a switching device operable by applying pressure to the bite block. Preferably the switching device is so constructed that when the bite block is gripped firmly by closing the jaws, the switch is opened. Thus by including the switch in the electrical supply circuit for the emitter, sound waves may be produced by releasing the grip on the bite block by opening the jaws as in the normal production of speech, the sound being interrupted by closing the jaws to terminate the sound when desired. Accordingly manual control of the sound is eliminated and the hands of the user are free, since the device for generating the electrical signal supplied to the emitter 16 through conductors 21 may be carried on the clothing of the user, for instance as shown in the aforesaid patent to Burchett. In contrast to prior structures which are awkward and unwieldy, the instant invention provides naturally operable and and connected electrically to one of the conductors 21 by' which the emitter is energized. The other conductor of the pair is electrically connected to metal tube 18. A movable contact 32 is positioned in a slot 33 formed in the bite block at the inner end of the cavity 26, a spring 35, brazed or otherwise secured to the contact 3-2, engaging the tube 18 to complete the circuit through conductors 21 when the contacts 30 and 32 are'engaged. It will be appreciated that when pressure is applied to the bite block by closing the jaws, the central portion of the bite block will be deformed as indicated in dotted lines in FIGURE 2 and the contact 32 will be flexed away from contact 30 to open the circuit, thereby de-energizing emitter 16 and terminating the sound. In the event tube 18 is formed of nonconducting material, such as plastic, a conducting path for engagement by spring 35 may be applied to the surface of the tube by coating or painting with metallic paint.
In FIGURES 4 and there is illustrated a modified form of the invention in which the emitter 36 is located externally of the mouth and discharges its audible signal into a plastic tube 39. The tube 39 extends through the side of the mouth, being coupled to a tube 38, preferably of metal, which extends through'the bite block 45, tube 38 communicating in turn with a second plastic tube 19 so as to discharge the emitted sound at the rear of the mouth cavity. In this embodiment of the invention, energizing signals are supplied to the emitter 36 by conductors 21, as in the preceding embodiment, and a switch 42, manually operable to open and close the energizing circuit, is associated with the emitter 36. It will be appreciated that, if desired, a control switch may be incorporated in the bite block 45 as disclosed in the earlier described embodiment, and in that event the conductors leading to the switch may be carried by or moulded into the plastic tube 39.
The only significant distinction between the embodiment of FIGURES 4 and 5 and that earlier described resides in the fact that in one embodiment the emitter is associated with the bite block, whereas in the other embodiment the emitteris carried externally, the bite block serving as a carrier through which the sound tube passes between the jaws and into the mouth cavity.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. In a speech aid having a sound emitter, a generator supplying to said emitter a wave-form electrical signal at audible frequency within the normal vocal range of frequencies, and an electrical circuit in which said emitter and generator are included, a bite block adaptedto be gripped between the jaws, switch means incorporated in said block and operable in response to varying pressure exerted by the jaws on said block to open and close said circuit and thereby to interrupt and reestablish emission of sound by said emitter, said emitter being disposed only the conductors 21 which 7 externally of the jaws and within the cheek, and being supported onsaid bite block, and means extending through said bite block and alfording a sound passage between said emitter and the Iear'portion of said mouth cavity.
2. In a speech aid having a sound emitter, a generator supplying to said emitter a wave-form electrical signal at audible frequency within the normal vocal range of frequencies, and an electrical circuit in which said emitter and generator are included, a bite block adapted to be gripped between the jaws, switch means incorporated in said block and operable in response to varying pressure exerted by the jaws on said block to open and close said circuit and thereby to interrupt and re-establish emission of sound by said emitter, and means affording a sound passage between said emitter and the rear portion of said mouth cavity, said means extending through said bite block. 7
3. In a speech aid having a sound emitter, a generator supplying to said emitter a Wave-form electrical signal at audible frequency within the normal vocal range of frequencies, and an electrical circuit in which said emitter and generator are included, a bite block adapted to be gripped between the jaws, and switch means incorporated in said block and operable in response to varying pressure exerted by the jaws on said "block to open and close said circuit and'thereby to interrupt and re-establish emission of sound by said emitter.
4. In a speech aid having a sound emitter, a generator supplying to said emitter a wave-form electrical signal at audible frequency Within the normal vocal range of frequencies, and an electrical circuit in which said emitter and generator are included, a bite block adapted to be:
gripped between the teeth, said emitter being disposed externally of the teeth and within the cheek, and being supported on said bite block, and means extending through said bite block and thence rearwardly to the rear portion of said mouth cavity, and affording a sound passage between said emitter and the rear portion of said mouth cavity.
5. In a speech aid having asound emitter, a generator supplying to said emitter a wave-form electrical signal at audible frequency Within the normal vocal range of frequencies, and an electrical circuit in which said emitter and generator are included, a bite block adapted to be gripped between the teeth, said emitter being disposed externally ofthe teeth, and means extending through said bite block and thence rearwardly to the rear portion of said mouth cavity, and afiording a sound passage between said emitter and the rear portion of said mouth cavity.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,093,453 Kellotat Sept. 21, 1937 2,273,077 Wright Feb. 17, 1942 2,862,209 Cooper Dec. 2, 1958 2,868,876 Ticchioni Ian. 13, 1959