New tool for early detection of language disorders

Verification test of Gades by a therapist from the Language Intervention Center. Credit: Mª Luisa Martín Ruiz

The GADES tool was developed as a result of a research conducted by the group Telematic Systems for the Information and Knowledge Society of the Telecommunication School at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. This tool allows us to automate the process of detection of language disorders and can help the work of pediatricians in Primary Care for early detection of these disorders and be able to refer to the specialist (neurologist, educator, psychologist, speech therapist or rehabilitation).

Experts on pediatrics, neuropediatrics, and language disorders as well as a team of engineers are involved in Gades and have created a Knowledge Base that collects the experience of the specialists on potential language disorders in the childhood from birth to six. The team members assessed the needs of pediatricians in the early detection of these pathologies and the needs of children and their families.

This Knowledge Base was integrated by the creation of a tool that provides Primary Care Pediatrists with a low number of questions that can assess the degree of according to the age in months of the child. Gades, with the answers to these questions, executes an inference engine created from the knowledge Base and then the data obtained are assessed.

The Language Intervention Center of the University of La Salle participated in the first phase by providing 21 real cases of children with language pathologies that helped as a starting point to refine the Knowledge Base of the Gades System. The second phase will include data from other 39 cases. They are also considering the possibility to use Gades in a real environment with cases of children in a kindergarten. This phase of verification, which is currently in process, will allow researchers to analyze the results to assess the goodness of the knowledge base.

It is expected to start the controlled assess phase from real cases by the end of 2013 and after finalizing the tests with Gades. Four pediatricians from two health centers of Madrid and a from a private medical centre will participate in this assessment. The result contrast and the opinion of the involved doctors will be essential to scale the system properly.

Gades is a web application developed in Java programming language with easy access (it just requires a computer with internet connection and any existing browser). This tool is a starting point to use Knowledge Based Systems in Primary Care in Spain, a system that did not exist so far and can be useful for early detection of some disorders.

More information: Martin-Ruiz, M. et al. Development of a Knowledge Base for smart screening of language disorders in primary care. IEEE 12TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BIOINFORMATICS & BIOENGINEERING: 121-126. Pub. 2012.

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