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New features for on-line aphasia therapy

Title New features for on-line aphasia therapy
Publication Type MSC Thesis
Year of Publication 2013
Authors Anna Pompili, Alberto Abad, Isabel Trancoso.
University Instituto Superior Técnico
Abstract Aphasia is a particular type of communication disorder caused by the damage of one or more language areas of the brain affecting various speech and language functionalities. Cerebral vascular accidents are one of the most common causes.

VITHEA (Virtual Therapist for Aphasia Treatment) is an on-line platform developed for the treatment of aphasic patients, incorporating recent advances of speech and language technologies to provide word naming exercises to individuals with lost or reduced word naming ability. The system, publicly available since July 2011, received several national and international awards and is currently distributed to almost 160 users among professional health-care and patients.

The focus of this thesis is to investigate the feasibility of incorporating additional functionalities that may enhance the VITHEA system. These features aimed at both extending the usability of the system and strengthening its performance, and thus involve several heterogeneous areas of the project. The main new features were: a new version of the client application to extend the portability of the platform to mobile devices, an ad-hoc hands-free interface to facilitate patients with physical disabilities, and an advanced search capability to improve the management of the application data. This study also included the assessment of the feasibility of a new type of exercises, and the evaluation of a new pronunciation lexicon aimed at improving recognition results. Overall, the results of user interaction satisfaction questionnaires and the automatic evaluations have provided encouraging feedback on the outcome of the developed improvements.

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