DCC had the pleasure of attending the UK Stroke Forum between the 3rd and 5th of December 2013. The first day was a nurse training day and the following two days featured interesting talks regarding stroke research and the findings of various enterprising research projects.
DCC continually supports The Stroke Association in order to help raise awareness of the dangers and links between high blood pressure and stroke risk via the Know Your Blood Pressure awareness campaign. As such, the Stroke Forum was an opportunity for us to not only make people aware of our work in stroke research and other fields, but more importantly, to give us a greater understanding of the latest research being utilised in the stroke arena. We in turn were able to share our expertise regarding best practise in data collection, analysis and presentation.
Although many of the talks were of a scientifically technical nature, we were able to relate much of the information back to technology and the data management – here at Document Capture Co we are continually looking to innovate in these areas in order to allow medical professionals to do their jobs more effectively.
Using technology to enhance existing processes is one of our core values, and the UK Stroke Forum revealed that this was being attempted in order to help stroke survivors and those suffering from aphasia and dysarthria.
Aphasia Software Finder
www.aphasiasoftwarefinder.org is a simple website that allows people to find suitable software to improve the lives of those suffering with aphasia. Aphasia is one of the aftereffects commonly experienced during stroke recovery, commonly resulting in memory loss and the loss of basic functions such as reading, writing and speaking. Due to the various effects of aphasia there are different applications and software solutions available that can cater to the needs of individual sufferers. As such, the Aphasia Software Finder website allows patients to find software programmes that can address their individual symptoms.
The website is simply constructed, easy to follow and simple to navigate – utilising colours that are easy on the eye as well as useful images to aid understanding. Users are able to search for specific apps for use with mobile devices as well as software for desktop computers and laptops. Users can also search for general apps that are not made specifically for aphasia suffers but may help with their conditions. Using Software Finder, sufferers can be introduced to the latest tools in the fight against aphasia – including those they may not have heard of before. They can then focus their search in order to discover more specialised software solutions better suited to their needs. Furthermore, site visitors can search by name in order to find any solutions they may have been recommended and even compare multiple software programs to better judge their pros and cons. Clicking on a software programme reveals its details and specifications, allowing the user to proceed to download. As an additional plus, the language used on the website is very simple and the instructions are easy to follow. An obvious question that is crying to be asked, however, is: ‘why not simply use Google or another search engine to find suitable aphasia software?’ Aphasia Software Finder, however, offers more than your average search engine. The use of Google keywords and careful indexing of search terms means that the website offers far more focussed results than a search engine alone, and the designers are careful to use only verified products so as to avoid the risks of computer viruses and cybercrime. A dedicated website that can cater to the needs of aphasia sufferers is both safer and more convenient than a search engine alone
GeST: Gesture Therapy Tool
GeST is a simple yet effective gesture therapy tool. All individuals – not just stroke survivors – use gestures to help them communicate, for example when they are in a loud or distracting environment. Capitalising on this truism, the GeST tool aims to teach aphasia sufferers how to make common gestures understood by the majority of people. The tool is not intended as an alternative to sign language, however – it is simply there as an additional means of helping sufferers to get their message across. While aphasia sufferers are often just as mentally capable as they’ve always been, the difficulty arises when it comes to communicating and articulating their thoughts through spoken or written language. The aim of the GeST tool is to facilitate communication and help reduce stigma towards sufferers.
Speech and Language Therapists (SALT) teach patients how to make common gestures, and GeST was born out of the idea that patients should be given the opportunity to practice SALT techniques independently in their own homes. The tool has its own keyboard consisting of only four buttons attached to a laptop, while sensors can help to determine whether or not the correct gestures are being made. There are three levels to the tool, the first being practise, followed by application in a 3D graphic world and finally application in real life situation in the correct context. The ‘gamification’ aspect of the software is attractive to its users and allows them to pick up and remember gestures quicker.
Be sure to look at the GeST video to see the system in practice.
The Voice Input-Voice Output
Voice Input Voice Output Communication Aid (VIVOCA) program is designed for people with dysarthria. Dysarthria is the inability to control the muscles that are responsible for speech, often resulting in distorted vocalisation on behalf of the sufferer. The VIVOCA device has the ability to translate blurred speech into something recognisable and understandable, be it using pre-recorded speech or synthesis of what is said. This helps people communicate with people who they are not familiar with and minimises frustration amongst dysarthria sufferers.
DCC spent a thoroughly enjoyable, informative three days at the UK Stroke Forum, where we engaged with many exhibitors and delegates in the process of conducting their own clinical trials and research projects. We are extremely passionate about improving services in both health and