Wii-like technologies may help stroke survivors improve communication skills

August 19, 2010

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 UK1.

The research is being carried out by a team at City University London, in collaboration with the Stroke Association and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The aim is to develop an affordable, computer-based technology to help stroke survivors, who have limited spoken or written output, learn how to 'gesture' independently at home.

Gestures that can be readily interpreted by others are often advocated in aphasia treatment, but can be difficult for aphasic people to learn, because they have additional stroke-related disabilities, such as one sided paralysis. Gesturing can be improved through therapy, but one-to-one sessions can be costly and therapy resources are scarce.

The project will create a prototype system that enables users to practise gesturing, receive instant feedback, and master the movements through repetition. It will be run by a multi-disciplinary team from City's Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCID), and Department of Language and Communication Science.

"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."

Jane Marshall, Professor of Aphasiology at City University London, adds: "Computer-based treatments have been shown to improve verbal language skills in previous studies, but this is the first time that gestures will be addressed. With 45,0002 new cases in the UK each year, we hope that our work will help a wider range of aphasic people to regain communication skills."

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, Research Liaison Officer at The Stroke Association, says: "Communication difficulties are the most frustrating disability that stroke survivors are left facing. This very exciting and intuitive project could go a long way towards helping breakdown some of the barriers of communication that people with aphasia have to tackle. 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK every year and the use of new technology could help them regain their lives, so The Stroke Association is very proud to be a part of this."

The project - known as Gesture Recognition in Aphasia Therapy (GReAT) - will run for 18 months. It plans to test the prototype via 30 of the Stroke Association's Stroke Clubs in the London area. Volunteers will use the system, explore its capabilities and report back to the project team, while workshops for aphasia therapists will explain how the system works and its potential benefits. People with aphasia will also be employed as consultants during the development of the technology, to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
-end-
Notes to Editors

References

Speakability, the national charity that supports and empowers people with aphasia, 2010. Office of National Statistics, 2001.

About City University London

City University London is a principal provider of undergraduate, postgraduate, professional and vocational education in the United Kingdom. The University is committed to leading London in education, research and knowledge transfer for businesses and the professions and is renowned for its international focus and the employability of its graduates.

The University teaches across a range of subjects in arts including journalism and music, informatics, social sciences, engineering and mathematical sciences, business, law, health and community sciences.

The University attracts over 21,000 students from 156 countries, while teaching staff are drawn from nearly 50 international locations, ensuring that the University has a truly international outlook.

City University London was founded in 1894 as the Northampton Institute and was awarded full university status in 1966. Please see the following link for more information www.city.ac.uk.

About the Stroke Association

The Stroke Association is the only UK charity solely concerned with combating stroke in people of all ages. The charity funds research into prevention, treatment, better methods of rehabilitation and helps stroke patients and their families directly through its Life After Stroke Services, information service, welfare grants, publications and leaflets. The Stroke Association also campaigns, educates and informs to increase knowledge of stroke at all levels of society acting as a voice for everyone affected by stroke.

The Stroke Helpline provides information on stroke to the general public and is open between 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday on 0303 30 33 100.

More information on The Stroke Association can be found at www.stroke.org.uk.

About EPSRC

EPSRC is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £850 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering. Further information is available at www.epsrc.ac.uk.

For more information, contact: Luke Nava in City University London's Press Office on 020 7040 8782 or email luke.nava.1@city.ac.uk

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Related Stroke Articles from Brightsurf:

Stroke alarm clock may streamline and accelerate time-sensitive acute stroke care
An interactive, digital alarm clock may speed emergency stroke care, starting at hospital arrival and through each step of the time-sensitive treatment process.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 have increased inflammation, stroke severity and death
Stroke patients who also have COVID-19 showed increased systemic inflammation, a more serious stroke severity and a much higher rate of death, compared to stroke patients who did not have COVID-19, according a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study of 60 ischemic stroke patients admitted to UAB Hospital between late March and early May 2020.

'Time is vision' after a stroke
University of Rochester researchers studied stroke patients who experienced vision loss and found that the patients retained some visual abilities immediately after the stroke but these abilities diminished gradually and eventually disappeared permanently after approximately six months.

More stroke awareness, better eating habits may help reduce stroke risk for young adult African-Americans
Young African-Americans are experiencing higher rates of stroke because of health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, yet their perception of their stroke risk is low.

How to help patients recover after a stroke
The existing approach to brain stimulation for rehabilitation after a stroke does not take into account the diversity of lesions and the individual characteristics of patients' brains.

Kids with headache after stroke might be at risk for another stroke
A new study has found a high incidence of headaches in pediatric stroke survivors and identified a possible association between post-stroke headache and stroke recurrence.

High stroke impact in low- and middle-income countries examined at 11th World Stroke Congress
Less wealthy countries struggle to meet greater need with far fewer resources.

Marijuana use might lead to higher risk of stroke, World Stroke Congress to be told
A five-year study of hospital statistics from the United States shows that the incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.

We need to talk about sexuality after stroke
Stroke survivors and their partners are not adequately supported to deal with changes to their relationships, self-identity, gender roles and intimacy following stroke, according to new research from the University of Sydney.

Standardized stroke protocol can ensure ELVO stroke patients are treated within 60 minutes
A new study shows that developing a standardized stroke protocol of having neurointerventional teams meet suspected emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO) stroke patients upon their arrival at the hospital achieves a median door-to-recanalization time of less than 60 minutes.

Read More: Stroke News and Stroke Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.