Speech and Hearing Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-23-2020


The aims of this project were to accurately measure and describe speech characteristics of professional fighters; and to analyze the future potential of using speech characteristics as biomarkers for acquired neurogenic decline or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Professional Fighters Brain Health Study (PFBHS) is a longitudinal project investigating the effect of repeated head trauma in professional combatants. The PFBHS provided recorded speech samples for this project. This study measured accurate speech characteristics of 102 professional boxers and mixed martial artists and compared these results to a group of 27 age-matched healthy controls. Analysis revealed a significant difference in articulation rate between fighters and controls. Additionally, fighters produced more frequent interruptions in the forward flow of speech such as pauses and disfluencies. Clinical implications of this project include a better understanding of the speech symptoms associated with acquired neurogenic decline, or CTE.

Degree Name

Speech-Language Pathology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Speech and Hearing Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Amy Neel, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Jessica Richardson, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Rick Arenas, Ph.D.




Speech characteristics, professional fighters, acoustic measures, repeated head injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE

Document Type