Adaptive language learning software helps stroke survivors regain essential communication skills


Neuropsychological rehabilitation (2022). DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2022.2143822″ width=”800″ height=”460″/>

(A) A representation of the initial screen of each trial with all options unclicked. (B) The response evaluation screen after clicking successively on the “significance index” and “reveal the response” boxes. Credit: Neuropsychological rehabilitation (2022). DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2022.2143822

Many stroke survivors suffer from aphasia, a speech and language processing disorder that can have a serious negative impact on many aspects of daily life. According to a new study from Baycrest, the use of adaptive language learning software is extremely beneficial in helping these people regain their language skills.

Current therapeutic approaches for usually require a specialized therapist, whose time is both scarce and expensive; and therapy is usually conducted in a clinical setting. In contrast, individuals can use language learning software whenever and wherever they want.

“These results are very encouraging and suggest that the use of adaptive language learning software should be considered for widespread adoption in the treatment of aphasia,” says Dr. Canada in Interventional Cognitive Neuroscience from Baycrest, Principal Investigator at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. and lead author of this study.

The study, recently published in Neuropsychological rehabilitation, examined 28 subjects recruited from aphasia support programs and aphasia-related social media groups. Each participant began by completing an evaluation with a researcher, where they were shown pictures and asked to name them, for example, “umbrella” or “squirrel.” Next, participants used an online program to practice identifying images they couldn’t name during their initial assessment. Each picture included two clues and the answer. Participants were asked to use this program 30 minutes a day for two weeks.

As part of the study, the researchers tested three different strategies for scheduling word repetition in the software. One was an adaptive “spaced repetition” strategy, which presents correctly named items less frequently, thereby focusing more on items that users don’t remember correctly. After completing their training, participants completed two additional assessments. The first took place the week after the training, and the second took place four weeks later, to test how well they had retained their skills.

The researchers found that the participants successfully relearned the majority of the trained items using the software. The adaptive spaced repetition strategy gave the best results, meaning there was no downside to removing items from the training list once they had been mastered.

“Our research suggests that stroke survivors and others living with aphasia can improve their using applications over several months, and can potentially relearn hundreds of words if practiced enough,” says Dr. Meltzer. “Adaptive language learning software using spaced repetition appears to be extremely useful in tailoring processing to and others living with aphasia, ultimately helping to improve their quality of life.”

In a follow-up study, researchers will assess the benefits of app-based practice for soft skills, such as and attention, in addition to training in relearning specific words, to maximize the degree of retrieval possible using adaptive software.

More information:
John de Grosbois et al, Asynchronous spaced-repetition online training alleviates word-finding difficulties in aphasia, Neuropsychological rehabilitation (2022). DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2022.2143822

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