Published: 09 February 2010
A UQ study will employ a unique mobile phone application to improve the “communicative fitness” and lifestyle of brain-injured patients.
Led by Professor Linda Worrall from UQ's Clinical Centre for Research Excellence (CCRE) in Aphasia Rehabilitation, the study will be the first of its kind to use the technology in combining two complementary approaches to aphasia rehabilitation into one optimal treatment outcome.
Aphasia, a language difficulty attributed to injury of the brain, usually from stroke, is estimated to affect 80,000 Australians. It can vary from mild difficulties with finding words, or reading text, to not being able to understand what people are saying and being unable to speak.
As part of the study, 50 participants with aphasia will wear voice-activated recorders for four weeks to record the amount of time they talk each day.
The small device, to be incorporated into their mobile phone, will function in a similar way as a pedometer is used in the 10,000 steps program, by keeping track of the users “communicative fitness”.
Professor Worrall said that participants would then be allocated to appropriate speech pathology programs based on their communicative fitness, which will help them gradually communicate more often.
“Our study aims to examine whether people with aphasia can improve their language and life participation by increasing the amount of time they talk during their everyday lives,” she said.
“The benefits of this program for people with aphasia and their families is that it not only aims to improve language function but also to prevent or overcome the effects of social isolation that come from not being able to understand or communicate clearly with others.
“We envisage that this study will lead to better communication outcomes, less social isolation, and better quality of life for people with aphasia and their families.”
Professor Worrall said that the CCRE has recruited all known available researchers associated with aphasia in Australia and relevant international experts to achieve this goal, and anticipates that the size of the team will double during the program.
The major outcome from research within the CCRE will be the development of the Australian Aphasia Clinical Pathway in close collaboration with speech pathologists and consumers.
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