Wii, iPad-type motion sensors could help stroke patients communicate

British researchers are testing whether motion sensors like those in Nintendo Wii controllers or various touch-screen computers can help treat aphasia, a language impairment related to partial paralysis that often results from strokes.

EHI Primary Care reports that researchers at University College London are trying to identify low-cost, home-based technologies that can assist stroke patients in learning how to gesture again in ways that others can easily understand. Currently, patients with aphasia typically need expensive, one-on-one therapy to regain their ability to gesture.

The 18-month project, called Gesture Recognition in Aphasia Therapy (GReAT), will bring together a team from the university's Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCID) and the Department of Language and Communication Science to create a prototype system with motion sensors so aphasia patients can receive instant feedback on their gestures and then repeat the movements to the point of mastery.

"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," Jane Marshall, professor of aphasiology at City University, tells the British publication. "With 45,000 new cases in the UK each year, we hope that our work will help a wider range of aphasic people to regain communication skills."

To learn more about the project:
- read this EHI Primary Care story