Aphasia group launches app to explain the condition

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Shona Robison was at the University today to help launch a new app created by people with aphasia to help those living with the condition.

The ‘I Have Aphasia’ app, which was created in partnership with people with aphasia living in Tayside, shows a short animated film outlining the key communication difficulties people with aphasia face. This film is a tool that people with aphasia can share with others to explain the challenges they face and the animation illustrates how people can assist anyone with aphasia through understanding and patience.  

Aphasia is a complex language and communication disorder resulting from damage to the language centres of the brain. This damage may be caused by a stroke, a head injury, a brain tumour or another neurological illness. It is estimated that there are over 350,000 people with aphasia living in Britain.

The app was developed during a collaborative programme run in partnership with Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust’s ST/ART Project and the Tap and Talk Aphasia iPad group, based at the User Centre of the University’s School of Science and Engineering.

During the eight week programme, members of the group shared their personal experiences of aphasia and worked with professional animator Andrew Low to shape and direct the production of a film and the short app animation. With support from Stirling-based software development firm DOGFI.SH Mobile, the short animation has now been reproduced as a free downloadable app from the Apple App store for iPhones and iPads.

The launch of the app today also helped mark Aphasia Awareness Month.

Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison joined participants of the Tap and Talk group, NHS Tayside Chairman Professor John Connell, Director of Allied Health Professions Karen Anderson, NHS Tayside Board member Alison Rogers and Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, to officially launch the app.

Ms Robison said, “We are committed to ensure that everybody living in Scotland with stroke, and other neurological conditions that cause aphasia, has access to the best patient care possible.

“Communication is a key element, and it is extremely encouraging to see partnership working to develop technological innovations such as this app, which can help to support those experiencing challenges communicating as a result of their aphasia.”

Professor Sir Pete Downes said, “This is a strong example of our collaborations with extra-ordinary users and shows again the value of embedding the User Centre within Computing at the University. It demonstrates the difference we can make, not only to the lives of older people or people with a disability, but also to our computing graduates who develop skills in developing technology for a wide range of users.”

Professor Connell said, “I am pleased to attend today’s event to mark the launch of the app and celebrate the hard work of the participants involved with the ST/ART project. The collaborative project has been very much driven by the participants, who by sharing their own experiences with aphasia, have created an app that will potentially help others with the condition. It is a great example of how collaboration with the University of Dundee drives benefit for patients.”

ST/ART projects coordinator Chris Kelly said, “The group were really focused and worked so hard on their message during the project. This made it easy for all the partners to get behind the idea of the app and take it to this new level. It is a wonderful example of empowerment that will potentially benefit thousands of people.”

The app is available at http://aphasia.dogfish.tech for free download from the Apple App Store from today (Friday, 30 June).

The ST/ART project, which has been in place since 2004, provides creative engagement opportunities for stroke survivors, using participatory arts as part of their rehabilitation and recovery.

ST/ART is run by Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) in association with NHS Tayside.

For more information on aphasia visit the Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org.uk/what-stroke/what-aphasia


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