(Speech, attention and memory issues)
« Our oldest daughter said "I like using it to read because I can really hear what the story is about and it makes me feel better about reading out loud" »
A bone conduction headset with technology for speech, language, reading, and auditory difficulties, designed to help with brain stimulation, sensory integration, and attention? What an interesting concept! Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd was created for that purpose and more, so after looking over their website and learning more about it, we appreciated the chance to give it a try over the last several weeks and share our review about it. Read on to find out more about this product and our experience with it!
About Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd
Forbrain is an intriguing piece of technology that "uses your voice to train your brain". It's a simple to use, lightweight headset that, to me, appears a lot like the headphones with a microphone that one might wear as a secretary or at a customer service call center, but this one has features that make it far different from a simple set of headphones. Additionally, this one doesn't actually cover your ears (or sit just inside them like ear buds might). Instead, the earpiece actually sits just in front of the ear canal opening, allowing bone conduction technology to help the speaker hear themselves more clearly while not inhibiting the ability to hear outside noises clearly and normally.
We received the headset with bone-conduction technology and a dynamic filter, along with a few microphone covers, a sturdy case, a charging cord, and a short, to-the-point instruction booklet.
It is recommended that the headset is used five days a week for a session of 6-10 weeks, in order to improve in a number of areas, including speech, reading, short-term memory, auditory processing, sensory integration, attention, speaking and presentation skills, and more! Kids or adults can use it, though the time frame for each practice session is slightly different according to age. Younger ages use it for about 15 minutes a day, while teens use it for 20 minutes at a time. Intensive use might involve a bit longer time frame each day. During each usage, one simply speaks into the microphone and allows the device to create auditory feedback. The speaking can be from reading a book, singing, speaking, or presentation practice, verbal memory work, conversation with others, or any number of creative uses. It doesn't require any special program... just wear it and talk!
Everyone in the family gave the headset a try since we were all curious to see how it worked and experience its effects.
Daddy used it far less than the rest of us. He said it made him not want to sing because he could hear all the flaws. Haha! I told him that it was supposed to help with the flaws but he wasn't much interested in using it further, though he did give it a try on numerous occasions when singing or reading to the girls. The fact that he noticed areas in which he could improve his voice is probably a good indicator that it is effective for helping one focus on certain aspects of voice quality and singing skills.
I used it fairly regularly and thought it was a neat experience, but did not have any particular goals in mind to achieve from its use. I just wanted to know what, exactly, my kids would be using and hearing. I didn't notice a lot of difference when wearing the headset versus speaking into any kind of microphone, except that I could feel the vibration of the bone conduction mechanism. This made it hard for me to know if it was working as it should. I expected more modulation of my voice due to the example given on the company's website and did not hear the same degree of changes when I was speaking, but later discovered that the website's example is enhanced to help people hear and understand what the product does. After repeated use, however, I found myself far more aware of my own voice, with or without it, and conscientious of what I said and how I spoke to others. While it wasn't a stated benefit that one might normally expect, I think it may have even had a calming effect for me - improving my patience when verbally interacting with others. My husband said that the use of the headset seemed to help moderate my daily speech even when I didn't use it, evening out the tone and volume. He noted that I used my "professional voice" when using the headset... it's the way I speak when making phone calls, giving a presentation, or speaking in front of others, and I think it's possible that this carried over just a bit into other areas over time.
Our main focus for the use of this product was with both girls. With both children, we made sure they used it daily, 5-6 days per week, for 15-30 minutes each time (average of 20). I hoped it could help Big Sis with her ability to focus, pay attention, and remember things. She has really struggled a lot lately with short-term memory, following directions, and recall. With Lil' Sis, our primary goal was to see if it would improve her speech, specifically pronunciation and clarity. She hasn't been diagnosed with any particular speech difficulty or delays, but there are certain sounds that she has a hard time with and she isn't always easy to understand.
Big Sis enjoyed listening to herself read aloud and listening to herself sing, improving her confidence in doing so around others as well. She says, "I like using it to read because I can really hear what the story is about and it makes me feel better about reading out loud". I think it might have also helped with her ability to focus and pay attention with other schoolwork and general day-to-day activities, so even though we started out by using it at night, we switched to using it first thing in the morning (after breakfast and getting ready for the day). Doing so seemed to make a possible impact on her ability to retain and follow directions, as well as her attention to detail during math or writing activities. It's as though the headset may have helped "turn on" her mind.
Lil' Sis thought using the headset was fun and loved hearing herself even better, which encouraged her to do a lot more reading, singing, and other vocal activities (like presentation practice or memory work). She says, "it's fun to hear myself read and I want to read all day". We also used it to help her work on better pronunciation of letters or sounds such as /r/, /w/, and /th/. She's always struggled with certain areas speech and clarity, so anything that could improve this for her and be fun using is a blessing. Nonetheless, I'm not sure whether or not Forbrain has yet to help improve pronunciation for her, particularly beyond those times when she's wearing it. We haven't used the product for the full ten weeks, as recommended, at this point, so we'll continue to use it and see how it goes.
The headset was easy to adjust and fit all of our heads from my 6-year-old to my husband. It was fun for my kids to use and something that they didn't want to take off. They also argued over who got to use it first each day. We found the battery life to be great but still easy to charge when needed. The protective case was great and comes in handy when we take it from place to place. And probably my favorite thing about Forbrain is how easy it is to incorporate into our daily routine! It didn't add anything to our schedule, wasn't intrusive, required almost no planning or preparation, and could simply be added into any number of different activities we are already doing each day - in no way detracting from them but rather having only the potential to enhance or help!
I really struggled to determine whether or not Forbrain has, at this stage, made a significant impact in the various areas it's designed to improve. There are several things that I think might have been helped through its usage for each of us, but it's hard for me to pinpoint for certain. This very well could be because we haven't used the product for the full recommended time frame and that we will see more obvious results in the coming weeks. We do plan to continue using it and have hopes for more improvement.
You can read the complete review directly on Laura's Blog.