Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Technology, aphasia and stroke survivors

Back in the spring and summer of 1998, I spent a lot of time rebuilding my speaking and writing abilities. One of the effects of my stroke, I learned, was something called aphasia, an impairment of language which occurs when someone suffers injury to the language areas of the brain.

Often, as in my case, this accompanies a stroke.

In addition to speech therapy, I spent quite a bit of time playing on a child's education toy called the GeoSafari, originally bought for our daughters to use. The toy helped me get my words/grammar back in order, or at least to an acceptable degree. We actually sold the GeoSafari at a yard sale not long ago and thought about those days as it left with an eager parent.

But from the United Kingdom comes the news that with fancier technology these days, we might harness video game technology to help stroke survivors improve communication skills:
Motion sensing technologies, such as the Nintendo Wii Remote, could be used in the rehabilitation of people with aphasia - a language impairment, commonly caused by a stroke, that affects around 250,000 people in the UK. ...

"Gesture tracking and recognition technologies are becoming a ubiquitous part of new computing and gaming environments, ranging from Apple's touch-screen iPad through the hand-held Nintendo Wii Remote to Microsoft's forthcoming Kinect for the Xbox 360, which will track users' movements without the need for a handheld controller," says Stephanie Wilson, Senior Lecturer in HCID at City University London. "Whilst popular in gaming, we will evaluate the suitability of such technologies in aphasia rehabilitation."
We've already seen articles about how the Wii Fit can help the physical consequences of a stroke. Now, perhaps similar technology can help conquer other issues. Aphasia was the most frustrating part of my recovery. Here's hoping that technology will ease some of that frustration.

(Image from the National Library of Medicine)

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