Boffins turn to Wii tech for speech-loss therapy
Communicate again, using gestures
Researchers at London's City University are to try out motion control gaming hardware - Nintendo's Wii Remote, Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move - to see if the technology can help stroke victims cheaply and easily regain the power to communicate.
One of the likely outcomes of a stroke is aphasia, effectively the loss or severe reduction in the ability to use spoken or written language. Aphasia can have other causes too, and treatments include teaching sufferers a rudimentary form of sign language - gestures, basically - to allow them to communicate non-verbally.
For stroke sufferers, many of whom also suffer from a degree of paralysis, this isn't easy, requiring one-on-one therapy, which is expensive.
However, the City University team reckon a computer program linked to a motion control system might make for a cheaper alternative - and one that aphasia sufferers could use in their own home.
"Gesture tracking and recognition technologies are becoming a ubiquitous part of new computing and gaming environments," said Stephanie Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCID) at City University London. "We will evaluate the suitability of such technologies in aphasia rehabilitation.”
Jane Marshall, Professor of Aphasiology at City University London, said: "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."
The team said they will develop a prototype rig that will allow users to practise gesturing and receive instant feedback.
According to the Stroke Association, around 150,000 Britons a year suffer from strokes, while some 45,000 new cases of aphasia will be diagnosed. ®