City, University of London

A virtual world to help people find their words after brain injury

Aphasia is a condition which causes people to have difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding language. It is usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain, for example after a stroke.  There are more than 350,000 people in the UK living with aphasia. Many will experience social isolation, reduced wellbeing and poor quality of life.

A team of speech and language researchers and human-computer interaction researchers at City, University of London, have been pioneering new technologies to help rehabilitate and engage people with the condition. Led by Jane Marshall, Professor of Aphasiology, and Stephanie Wilson, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction, the collaboration has developed numerous technologies to help people with aphasia.

This includes EVA Park, a virtual world designed to help patients practise their speech and establish social connections in virtual interactions that mirror activity from their everyday lives, like visiting the hairdresser or meeting people in the park. It is currently being trialled as a service and could in the future be adopted more widely across the UK.

Further reading