UNI Develops Mobile App to Help Stroke Survivors

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A small group of students and staff from the University of Northern Iowa have produced the university's first mobile app. The app, called "Name That," is designed to help stroke survivors who suffer from aphasia.

Aphasia causes people to have difficulty communicating. Take a spoon. for example, it's a simple everyday item. Those with aphasia may know what it is, but they may not be able to say the word. Others with aphasia might not understand what is it at all, or what to do with it. The "Name That" app is designed to help build a bridge in the mind of stroke survivors.

The app shows stroke survivors pictures of everything from an apple to a giraffe. If the patients aren't sure what the item is, the app gives them hints or will say the word for them. That repetition helps the survivors practice seeing and saying the word. Doing that will hopefully help, so that when they see that item in their daily lives they'll be able to communicate what it is.

The app is based on a technique that has been used by speech therapists for many years, called Semantic Feature Analysis.

"My passion is to help people with communication disorders. So anyway that they can be more independent and have a better quality of life to communicate with others, that's the biggest goal," said Angie Burda, Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, who helped develop the app.

The app was developed through a collaboration with the Department of Communication Science and Disorders and the AppsLab at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. The app is now being used by those with aphasia at the Roy Eblen Speech and Hearing Clinic at UNI.

But you don't have to be a patient there to use the app, it is available to the public -- just search "Name That" in iTunes or Google Play. There is a charge to download.
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