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Using Virtual Technology to Promote Functional Communication in Aphasia (Kalinyak-Fliszar et al., 2015)

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journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2015, 00:00 by Michelene Kalinyak-Fliszar, Nadine Martin, Emily Keshner, Alex Rudnicky, Justin Shi, Gregory Teodoro
Purpose We investigated the feasibility of using a virtual clinician (VC) to promote functional communication abilities of persons with aphasia (PWAs). We aimed to determine whether the quantity and quality of verbal output in dialogues with a VC would be the same or greater than those with a human clinician (HC).
Method Four PWAs practiced dialogues for 2 sessions each with a HC and VC. Dialogues from before and after practice were transcribed and analyzed for content. We compared measures taken before and after practice in the VC and HC conditions.
Results Results were mixed. Participants either produced more verbal output with the VC or showed no difference on this measure between the VC and HC conditions. Participants also showed some improvement in postpractice narratives.
Conclusion Results provide support for the feasibility and applicability of virtual technology to real-life communication contexts to improve functional communication in PWAs.

Funding

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (DC 012245) awarded to Temple University (PIs: Nadine Martin, Emily Keshner). We would like to thank the coordinated efforts of our research team, without whose expertise in the fields of virtual environments, computer science, communication sciences and disorders, and neuroscience this project would not have been possible. We would like to thank Samantha Waldman-Rosenberg, Thomas Seminack, Julie Schlesinger, Lydia Spanier, Amelia Wisniewski-Barker, Katlyn Yackoski, and Julia Zabihach for their assistance with data analysis and preparation of this article. A special thank you to EH, CM, CN, and DC, who cheerfully participated in a unique application of a functional approach to aphasia rehabilitation.

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