App TO BOOST Communication For Aphasia Diagnosis, Treatment

Aphasia, which is caused by a heart stroke typically, occurs when the language centers of the mind have been damaged, resulting in the increased loss of the ability to understand or formulate talk. Because comprehension is impaired in people who have aphasia, it can be difficult for doctors to clarify their diagnoses in a real way that makes sense, Velez said. The app, called the Visual Interactive Narrative Intervention, attempts to solve that issue by providing a system that’s interactive and can be repeated multiple times, improving the individual with aphasia’s understanding.

Velez joined the project after Texas Tech art teacher and IU alumna Stacy Elko, MFA’05, and conversation pathologist Melinda Corwin reached out to him to recruit his knowledge in interactive communication. He looked into the presssing issue and said he realized there is a lack of time, money and attention being dedicated to solving the patient-provider communication crisis for people with aphasia. The VINI’s narrative revolves around a primary character, made to represent the person with aphasia, who goes through the stroke and recovery processes while the application user makes interactive decisions. The app, which is designed for tablets, shows the individual pre-aphasia first, going about his / her lifestyle.

The person with aphasia reaches make decisions within the app, such as whether to drink a cup of coffee or walk the dog first. Next, the primary character experiences a stroke, and the VINI explains the medical diagnosis displaying illustrated images. Following the stroke, the primary character undergoes treatment and therapy.

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One of the app’s goals is to highlight that a recovery process will be necessary, Velez said. Repetition is key also. Currently, the VINI is within a prototype research stage. When it’s completed, it will be available to healthcare providers as an instrument for use in explaining and providing aphasia diagnoses. The preliminary results of the considerable research are promising, Velez said. They conducted an eight-week pilot research in which participants with aphasia had three sessions watching a video of a health care provider explaining their medical diagnosis and three classes with the VINI.

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