A study by the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, will employ a mobile phone application in efforts to help improve the communicative fitness and lifestyle of brain-injured patients.

Led by Professor Linda Worrall from UQ’s Clinical Centre for Research Excellence in Aphasia Rehabilitation, the study will be the first of its kind to use the technology in combining two complementary approaches to aphasia rehabilitation into one optimal treatment outcome, according to the university.

"Our study aims to examine whether people with aphasia can improve their language and life participation by increasing the amount of time they talk during their everyday lives," Worrall said in a statement. "The benefits of this program for people with aphasia and their families is that it not only aims to improve language function but also to prevent or overcome the effects of social isolation that come from not being able to understand or communicate clearly with others.

As part of the study, 50 participants with aphasia will wear voice-activated recorders for 4 weeks to record the amount of time they talk each day.

The small device, to be incorporated into their mobile phone, will function in a similar way as a pedometer is used in the 10,000 steps program, by keeping track of the users communicative fitness.

Worrall said that participants would then be allocated to appropriate speech pathology programs based on their communicative fitness, which will help them gradually communicate more often.

Worrall said that the Centre has recruited all known available researchers associated with aphasia in Australia and relevant international experts to achieve this goal, and anticipates that the size of the team will double during the program.

The major outcome from research within the CCRE will be the development of the Australian Aphasia Clinical Pathway in close collaboration with speech pathologists and consumers.

[Source: University of Queensland]