Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Emoji app - can it help aphasia patients?

Back in the pre-emoji era, one of the tools I used to get my language skills back was an educational toy called GeoSafari. The company still makes more modern versions of this toy.

Fast forward almost 19 years, and here's some new technology to help people with aphasia, a common result of a stroke. Read how Samsung’s new app uses emojis to help people with language disorders communicate:
Created by Samsung Electronics Italia (the company’s Italian subsidiary) and speech therapist Francesca Polini, Wemogee replaces text phrases with emoji combinations and can be used as a messaging app or in face-to-face interactions. It supports English and Italian and will be available for Android on April 28, with an iOS version slated for future release.
Aphasia is caused when brain regions responsible for language comprehension and speaking are injured. One of the most common causes is strokes, but aphasia can also result from brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases. ...
The developers of Wemogee claim that it is “the first emoji-based chat application designed to enable people with aphasia to communicate.” The app has two modes: visual and textual. An aphasic users sees emojis, which are arranged to convey more than 140 phrases that have been organized into six categories. Wemogee translates the emoji combinations into text for non-aphasic users, and then translates their responses back into emojis.
“Aphasic patients understand emojis because they depict all aspects of emotions. The use of gestures, images and facial expressions is a function perfectly preserved in understanding and often also in the production of language,” said Polini in a prepared statement. 
It doesn't appear to help aphasia patients to move from images to actual words, so it might serve as a a single tool to help communicate, but not necessarily help someone move forward in relearning language skills with a brain rewiring itself.

(Image from Samsung)

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