Author: Garric Clémentine, Master in Cognitive Neurosciences
Vocalyx : Communication content adaptation to differing cognitive profiles of application users
How to use Vocalyx in a fun and constructive way : 3 helpful exercises for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or aphasia.
The results of a study carried out in retirement homes show that environment-based exercises involving everyday activities and actions are beneficial to people with Alzeimer’s disease.
Some speech-language pathologists use Vocalyx to slow down language deterioration in Alzheimer patients. The use of communication keyboards dedicated to expressing everyday words and phrases is already a method of rehabilitation. However, with the new and innovative Vocalyx format, it is possible to categorically organize differently themed keyboards, images, photos, and audio messages. Now we can imagine more fun and playful exercises than before.
Vocalyx challenged three speech therapy students to find a way to integrate exercises that stimulate the cognitive abilities of people with Alzheimer’s into this application. Hélène Chappot de la Chanonie, Léa Croze, and Laura le Cam responded to the challenge.
By Hélène Chappot de la Chanonie
This keyboard represents a “Who’s Who” of the user’s family :
You have probably already shown a family photo to your loved one and tried to help them remember everyone’s name. This Who’s Who has several advantages over a family photo because it gives the user several ways to differentiate each person. Generations are separated by line and color; and, when you click on the face of a relative, the application says their name aloud while bringing up a new page with icons representing important pieces of information and memories pertaining to that person.
Examples of personalized keys representing details regarding the user's brother:
It is possible to add various pieces of information about each family member. This could include:
- Favorite activities
- Place of Residence
- Day of visit
- A shared memory (when you click on the memory, the story you have written would be read out loud by the speech synthesis)
The first step of actually creating the Who’s Who family photo directory is in itself a great exercise to do with the Vocalyx user. You can work with him/her to gather the most important information regarding family members. Once the keyboard is made, the user can benefit from the complete interactive Who’s Who photo directory which will help restore confidence before or during a visit from a relative.
It may seem inappropriate to represent a generation of dead people (parents, uncles, aunts) in the photo directory. However, in most cases with Alzheimer’s disease, the autobiographical memory of early life is much better preserved than any more recent memory. The memory of parents and family members is very important when you are a child; because of this, talking with your loved one about their parents and older relatives can bring out many forgotten memories.
Cognitive stimulation :
- Episodic/autobiographical memory : personal information (family members, important life events).
- Working memory remembering the last actions performed (ie. Who was the first person you clicked on?).
By Laura Le Cam
This keyboard corresponds to an evocation exercise for various places, either at home or in the neighbourhood.
The exercise consists of listing what can be found in each of these places. First, you go over five items, and then five more items if the user can easily find the first five. The instructions are read by the synthetic voice and written out in the text box when a place is selected. There are also sound a visual cues if hints are needed. For example: the living room:
No answers are given by the application. The user’s responses should be validated by the user’s caregiver or family member.
Cognitive stimulation :
- Semantic memory : general information that everyone remembers (ie. a cucumber is a vegetable), as opposed to episodic memory, which is an individual’s personal memories.
- Episodic/autobiographical memory: remembering where certain objects are located in places inhabited or frequented by the user (ie. the clock is in the kitchen).
By Léa Croze
This exercise features the preparation of a recipe from A to Z.
This one is more difficult than the previous exercises because it involves more time and planning.
First, the user’s friend, family member, or caregiver helps to figure out the user’s favorite dish. Once this is done, you just need to go through step by step and select each image and answer the questions.(What ingredients are needed? Where can we get them? Which kitchen utensils will be used?)
- Executive functions : planning out an action requiring several steps.
- Working memory : maintaining information, remembering the previous steps (a key ability of executive functions).
- Semantic memory : finding and using appropriate words in the categories of foods, places and utensils.
- Episodic/autobiographical memory : finding the appropriate word choice in the categories of food, places, and utensils.
All three of these exercises deal with the topics of daily life while stimulating the user in different ways. It is important for the Vocalyx user’s helpers, whether they be friends, family, or caregivers, to remember that they should be there to support the user and help them feel successful in completing these exercises. You can find these exercises within the application by following the path: HOME > KEYBOARDS > DOWNLOAD > PUBLIC KEYBOARDS. There is no limit to the number of keyboards that can be downloaded. The only thing necessary is that the device is connected to the internet.
Are you a speech therapist? Occupational therapist? Neuropsychologist? These exercise keyboards are just a few examples of what is possible within the Vocalyx application. Every aspect can be modified and customized. Through the use of hierarchical information organization systems, visual and sound support, and access to photo and pictogram databases, you can create your own exercises and save them for sharing with patients who are already using the Vocalyx application.