NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab at Dalhousie University

Aphasia Treatment


Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects 1 in 3 stroke-survivors and approximately 2.5 million people in North America. People with aphasia often struggle expressing their basic needs and ideas, which affects their ability to hold their job, maintain or establish relationships and, ultimately, to be able to provide for themselves. Currently, most people with aphasia do not receive adequate treatment, mostly due to limited human and financial resources and difficulties with transportation.

The Mission

Computer-based therapies can help address these problems as they provide people with necessary levels of access to a potentially cost-effective therapy from the comfort of their home. This study is part of a project whose mission is to harness the immense potential of computer-based therapies to remove any physical and financial barrier that currently put therapy out of reach to most people with aphasia, extending access to anyone with an internet connection and a computer or tablet. To this end, the mission of this project is to develop, test and ultimately commercialize a computer-based therapy for at-home rehabilitation of aphasia.

Overview Of The Current Study

We developed a prototype program featuring an automatic speech-recognition (ASR) system that provides people with aphasia with feedback on how well they speak, a fundamental innovation that is crucial for treatment to be effective. The prototype also employs an evidence-based approach to remediate word-finding skills. This approach is implemented in a simple game, using ASR to provide users with immediate feedback on whether their naming is accurate.

We recently conducted a usability study where people with aphasia used our program and provided feedback about what aspects of the design needed to be improved. We have used this information to refine the design, which we are now testing in a new study.


  1. Diagnose the major obstacles that affect the usability of the current version of the prototype
  2. Sssess the extent to which people with aphasia benefit from receiving external feedback from an ASR while engaging with language training at-home.
  3. Investigate whether self-monitoring abilities – defined as a person’s ability to detect errors in their speech – predict who benefits the most from receiving external feedback from the ASR.


If you have aphasia, or work with people who have aphasia, and are interested in participating in this study, please email Francesco

Current State of Project and Lab Volunteer Contribution Opportunities

Data collection is currently going on. There are various ways you can contribute to this study as a NCIL volunteer.

Funding Sources

NSERC and Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship (NSGS) funded Francesco directly via bursaries; funding from the Brain Repair Centre was used to fund Francesco and the research; Nova Scoait Health Authority funded the research.