Presentation Title

Aphasia VR

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)

Abstract/Artist Statement

Aphasia Intervention using Virtual Reality Technology Kristina Mahagamage, MFA Graduate Candidate, Media Arts, University of Montana Co-Authors/Editors : Michael Musick Media Arts University of Montana Jenna Griffin Speech, Language, Hearing and Occupational Sciences University of Montana Introduction Virtual Reality technology can help healthcare clinicians work with persons with Aphasia in therapeutic exercises that simulate real-world experiences. “Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write" (“Aphasia Definitions - National Aphasia Association”). Virtual Reality (VR) is a groundbreaking technology that allows people to interact with computer-generated (CG) simulations in real-time. In the study, Virtual Reality For Stroke Rehabilitation, Kate Laver compares the results and methodology of using VR to improve upper limb activity in post-stroke patients (Laver). By examining similar VR methods, the intention is to design and develop an immersive experience that simulates real-world challenges that persons with Aphasia may face with a speech therapist or Clinician's guidance. Purpose Using current therapeutic methods for Aphasia intervention and applying them to a simulated immersive experience, users/patients can practice and improve their communication deficiencies in a simulated environment. VR provides a safe space for users/patients to practice real-world communication skills. Methods The development of this experience is both a technical and a design challenge. It requires an understanding of who the user base is and how to cater to that user. Interactivity is key. Developing an interactive therapy experience in Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), a game engine, allows for the design of experience functionality while also creating stunning, high-resolution environments. Multi-user functionality is also enabled so that clinicians may be present in the simulation. In this project, users/patients will experience a coffee shop environment. The user/patient is seated at a table with a menu in front of them. The menu is simple, with a single word. A Computer-Generated (CG) character or Clinician then interacts with the user/patient. When the word is said correctly, the patient receives what they asked. These exercises will then be followed up with different words to further the experience. The goal is for the user/patient to feel confident through the interaction and improve their communication skills. Originality Virtual technologies are currently used in Aphasia therapy for stroke-related communication disabilities. The most prominent example is EVA Park, designed and developed at the University of London. EVA Park is a compelling experience for persons with Aphasia. It has an astoundingly positive effect on people, with a "high-rating of enjoyment" (“EVA – Evaluating the Effects of a Virtual Communication Environment for People with Aphasia”). While EVA Park uses virtual worlds accessed through standard computer interfaces (i.e. a screen, keyboard, and mouse), this experience's originality will focus on practice and training using a head mount display (HMD), Oculus or Vive, for a completely immersive experience. The objective is to help users/patients build confidence in speaking and reading. Significance The practical application of Virtual Reality technologies is currently being used in medical intervention and rehabilitation. The potential of this technology could lead to medical breakthroughs. In this experience, VR presents a simulated real-world situation for users/patients by building on the current methods of virtual therapies used today. Creating a virtual reality simulation for intervention can improve confidence and communication skills for users/patients with Aphasia. The Aphasia VR project can supply different methods of intervention by providing a practical option for isolated people. It can increase confidence and improve quality of life. Clinicians also have the opportunity to observe and understand the conflicts and challenges they may face in a real-world environment and allow for adjustment in one's therapy if needed. Works Cited “Aphasia Definitions - National Aphasia Association.” National Aphasia Association, http://www.facebook.com/NatlAphasiaAssoc, https://www.aphasia.org/aphasia-definitions/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021. Laver, Kate, et al. “Virtual Reality for Stroke Rehabilitation.” Stroke, 15 Dec. 2011, www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.642439. “EVA – Evaluating the Effects of a Virtual Communication Environment for People with Aphasia.” EVA, https://evapark.city.ac.uk/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Mentor Name

Michael Musick

Personal Statement

When I was younger, I had dreams of being a doctor. I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. However, the events of my life didn't go as planned. I've always been creative and found myself in art school doing digital design work for a living. In the final year of my undergraduate experience, I was fortunate to meet Jackie Morie, a VR pioneer. Her CV is impressive, working at the Institute for Creative Technologies, the Army Research Lab, Blue Sky Studios, and Rhythm and Hues. Naturally, I wanted to emulate her and dive into the budding technological field of VR, AR, and XR, but I found myself stuck in game development jobs. There is more to this technology than just video games. I seek to prove this. With Jenna Griffin's guidance, a faculty member in SLHOS and expert on Aphasia, I explore clinicians' needs to serve their patients better. I aspire to take a technological approach to medical intervention therapies in the pursuit of innovative advancement and the betterment of one's quality of life. This type of work is important because it requires an understanding of current therapeutical methods, analyze the rate of success, and identifies what could be improved upon and how technology such as VR can be useful in the evolution of therapies. The work is essential to me because it provides a design and technological challenge. It allows me to touch the waters of the medical field in my innovative way, just like when I was a kid, but through art, interactivity, and design. Projects like these can inspire an industry.

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Aphasia VR

Aphasia Intervention using Virtual Reality Technology Kristina Mahagamage, MFA Graduate Candidate, Media Arts, University of Montana Co-Authors/Editors : Michael Musick Media Arts University of Montana Jenna Griffin Speech, Language, Hearing and Occupational Sciences University of Montana Introduction Virtual Reality technology can help healthcare clinicians work with persons with Aphasia in therapeutic exercises that simulate real-world experiences. “Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write" (“Aphasia Definitions - National Aphasia Association”). Virtual Reality (VR) is a groundbreaking technology that allows people to interact with computer-generated (CG) simulations in real-time. In the study, Virtual Reality For Stroke Rehabilitation, Kate Laver compares the results and methodology of using VR to improve upper limb activity in post-stroke patients (Laver). By examining similar VR methods, the intention is to design and develop an immersive experience that simulates real-world challenges that persons with Aphasia may face with a speech therapist or Clinician's guidance. Purpose Using current therapeutic methods for Aphasia intervention and applying them to a simulated immersive experience, users/patients can practice and improve their communication deficiencies in a simulated environment. VR provides a safe space for users/patients to practice real-world communication skills. Methods The development of this experience is both a technical and a design challenge. It requires an understanding of who the user base is and how to cater to that user. Interactivity is key. Developing an interactive therapy experience in Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), a game engine, allows for the design of experience functionality while also creating stunning, high-resolution environments. Multi-user functionality is also enabled so that clinicians may be present in the simulation. In this project, users/patients will experience a coffee shop environment. The user/patient is seated at a table with a menu in front of them. The menu is simple, with a single word. A Computer-Generated (CG) character or Clinician then interacts with the user/patient. When the word is said correctly, the patient receives what they asked. These exercises will then be followed up with different words to further the experience. The goal is for the user/patient to feel confident through the interaction and improve their communication skills. Originality Virtual technologies are currently used in Aphasia therapy for stroke-related communication disabilities. The most prominent example is EVA Park, designed and developed at the University of London. EVA Park is a compelling experience for persons with Aphasia. It has an astoundingly positive effect on people, with a "high-rating of enjoyment" (“EVA – Evaluating the Effects of a Virtual Communication Environment for People with Aphasia”). While EVA Park uses virtual worlds accessed through standard computer interfaces (i.e. a screen, keyboard, and mouse), this experience's originality will focus on practice and training using a head mount display (HMD), Oculus or Vive, for a completely immersive experience. The objective is to help users/patients build confidence in speaking and reading. Significance The practical application of Virtual Reality technologies is currently being used in medical intervention and rehabilitation. The potential of this technology could lead to medical breakthroughs. In this experience, VR presents a simulated real-world situation for users/patients by building on the current methods of virtual therapies used today. Creating a virtual reality simulation for intervention can improve confidence and communication skills for users/patients with Aphasia. The Aphasia VR project can supply different methods of intervention by providing a practical option for isolated people. It can increase confidence and improve quality of life. Clinicians also have the opportunity to observe and understand the conflicts and challenges they may face in a real-world environment and allow for adjustment in one's therapy if needed. Works Cited “Aphasia Definitions - National Aphasia Association.” National Aphasia Association, http://www.facebook.com/NatlAphasiaAssoc, https://www.aphasia.org/aphasia-definitions/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021. Laver, Kate, et al. “Virtual Reality for Stroke Rehabilitation.” Stroke, 15 Dec. 2011, www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.642439. “EVA – Evaluating the Effects of a Virtual Communication Environment for People with Aphasia.” EVA, https://evapark.city.ac.uk/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.