My thoughts on: Reading TherAppy from Tactus Therapy

Key details (taken from http://www.tactustherapy.com/reading.html)

Reading TherAppy – Phrase and Sentence-Level Reading Comprehension

From Tactus Therapy Solutions (website includes a video demonstration)

Cost:£10.49 / $14.99 (at time of writing) at the iTunes App store

Goal areas

Targets reading comprehension, attention, problem solving

For who?

Aphasia, Alexia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Cognitive-Communication Impairment, Brain Injury, Early Language Learners, Language Learning Disability, Autism, English as a Second Language Learners

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Review

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Giving a ‘big’ presentation on my research

So I’m in the process of sorting out my filing system on my computer and I came across some text that I had written for a previous blog that I was co-author on.As it still seems to be relevant I’ll post it here.Bear in mind that this was written approximately 18 months ago.It’s also makes a change to be posting about  something other than apps (but new post on this soon).

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Not a strategy I employed to ease nervesGiven that I’m now approaching the end of my third year of my PhD research in the area of speech and language therapy, I’ve reached the point where I actually have interesting and somewhat conclusive things to tell people. That’s why I was very excited when I had an abstract for a presentation accepted for a therapy symposium organised by the British Aphasiology Society which coincidentally was being held this year at Newcastle University.

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Appraising apps in SLT/P (1) – Outcome measures and building the evidence base

I’ve resisted the cliché of calling this post “App”raisal / APPraisal / app-raisal

Well I’d probably over-estimated myself at the end of my last blog post when I suggested I’d present a structured approach to appraising apps. The more I thought about it, the more there seemed to be to think about and naturally there would always be things that I’d miss out on. So in the interests of getting a post up and making the topic of appraising apps more manageable and not restricting it to just a single blog post, I’m now proposing to present questions and things to think about, more or less as they occur to me. I’ll probably aim to introduce one or two into any one blog post. This means that I can always add to my list of thoughts later, and it also gives people the opportunity to comment and make suggestions (if they are so inclined).

Results are much easier to digest in graphsSo without any further excuses and delays I’ll go directly into some of my considerations on the issue. These will not necessarily be in any particular order as I’ll aim to make things more structured (i.e. so they could fit on a couple of sides of A4) as my list becomes more well-rounded and refined.

1) How can outcomes be measured?

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Get with the times – Speech and Language Therapists need to be informed about apps!

Apps are here whether we like it or not. SLTs can't keep their head in the sandConsidering my previous post highlighting some of my thoughts on the availability of apps in SLT I thought I’d attempt to follow this up relatively quickly with some of my thoughts on the SLT’s responsibility in being aware of and appraising apps. Both of the comments on the previous post (at the time of writing this) alluded to the same point in one way or another: as SLTs we have to accept that parents/clients/family will not be passive when it comes to speech and language impairment. It is only natural to want to help when your child or partner has difficulties with communication. Therefore, in the current climate, an app may make for an obvious choice as a possible way to help. This may be especially the case when SLTs’ caseloads are growing and it may be a considerable amount of time before the client has the chance to receive ‘professional’ intervention.

Therefore, to ally my apprehensions, I do propose that it is the SLTs responsibility to:

1) accept that apps are going to be increasingly relevant in the field of SLT. Even if apps are not an individual SLT’s preferred method of delivering intervention, we still have a responsibility to have an awareness of apps because there will more than likely be a time when a new client says something along the lines of “I’m thinking about buying this app because it says it can help with X”.

When faced with such a statement, we are the expert so we should be able to offer an opinion, or at least we should know how we can find out more information.

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Some positives and possible warnings about ‘apps’ in speech and language therapy

It appears as though apps are the future of speech and language therapy.In theory I do not have a problem with this as it does make sense to keep up with technology and exploit it wherever there is the potential for it to make our (speech and language therapists’) lives easier, and more importantly, to make a positive contribution to our clients’ development/recovery/rehabilitation.As an illustration of the increasing popularity of ‘apps’, I arrived home today to find the latest edition of the RCSLT’s Bulletin through my door and inside there was an article giving an overview of some of the apps that are currently available for adults with speech and/or language and/or swallowing needs.

Therapy AppsFrom the SLT’s perspective, apps, or more generally tablet computers, would appear to be a sensible investment: they are small yet can store a huge number of different files and applications (i.e. therapy materials); they are touch screen, hence making it an interactive tool which is presumably engaging for clients; they are customisable; if clients see them as being useful, they may then purchase their own hardware and continue therapy independently (which may therefore give the SLT more time to see other clients/patients). Although the hardware itself may be a bit pricey, hard copies of published therapy materials aren’t exactly cheap, so in terms of budgeting, it may be a case or re-directing the flow of cash from buying expensive hard copies of materials which take up valuable shelf space to buying an expensive piece of hardware plus relatively cheap electronic materials which altogether would take up the same amount of space as a single book on a shelf (and a thin book at that). Read more of this post

Blast from the past – Mills (1904). Treatment of aphasia by training

"Whisky": Highly familiar and easily recogniseable

“In testing him for powers of word-seeing, letter-seeing and number-seeing, it was evident that he recognised some letters and some words much better than others. This was especially true with regard to words.He could always pick out words which had evidently been unusually familiar to him before his seizure; for example, the words whisky, brandy and beer in the hospital diet list were at once recognised, although most other words he could not tell, except in a few cases with difficulty”

A look at: Mills, C. K. (1904). Treatment of aphasia by training. Journal of the American Medical Association, 43, 1940-1949.

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Note/Promise to self

Reporting on aphasia/SLT stuffI’ll begin to use this blog to summarise some nice things I read related to aphasia and speech therapy.

Been inspired by excellent Research Digest blog by British Psychological Society. Not intending to be quite as productive and comprehensive as this but it will give me added motivation to write something when other ideas are thin on the ground.

I’ll keep up with other content as well but as I’m struggling to keep up with my plan of 1 blog post per week this will hopefully give me more inspiration.It’ll also encourage me to keep reading and appraising stuff rather than just re-tweeting links to articles and/or printing stuff out and adding them to my ever-growing pile of ‘things to read’.

Mission accomplished

Mission accomplishedDirectly following from my last post I’ve now had my PhD viva and come out the other side with a pass. This is of course good news, if for no other reason I can legitimately call myself (or insist other people call me) Doctor Plant.

I have mixed feelings about my viva.Naturally there is a sense of relief that another part of the PhD process is finally over.Then there are the positive feelings of satisfaction that I’ve actually managed to successfully reach this stage (no mean feat in itself) and come through the other side (relatively) unscathed.Then there are the other feelings of anticlimax and some dissatisfaction with my performance in the actual viva itself.

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Something for the weekend sir?

Viva is coming next week. Not so worried about it but still making a to-do list to ensure preparation is under control

  1. Re-read Vigliocco, Vinson, Lewis & Garrett (2004). Representing the meanings of object and action words: The featural and unitary semantic space hypothesis. Cognitive Psychology, 48, 422-488., as this paper puts forward one of the main propositions that my thesis investigates, i.e. that words for objects (nouns) and actions (verbs) can be stored in the same processing system using similar principles of representation within the mental lexicon.
  2. Re-read PhD thesis to remember what’s been done and also to highlight any interesting bits that may be useful to drawn on during the viva (post-it notes aplent probably).
  3. Write a short summary of PhD as a whole and bullet point main themes and  findings of individual chapters.
  4. Prepare some answers to standard questions (e.g. what’s interesting about your work?) that can be predicted and some more specific ones suggested by supervisors.
  5. Think of own questions to ask which will demonstrate enthusiasm for the topic area and desire to continue in this or related areas of research
  6. Try not to develop full blown cold which appears to be in its infancy with possible associated loss or croaky voice

Hopefully this is all achievable in the 97 hours remaining

I'll love it if this plan comes together

Revisiting my PhD (part 1) – My chance to find the findings other people hadn’t found

When I started my PhD this is what I thought I'd feel like by the end of itIt’s been too long since I did a proper blog post for a few reasons, but probably mostly to do with procrastination. But here I am again and I’ve decided to give a brief introduction to my PhD  and current research interests, or as I like to say, what I have been doing with the last four years of my life. In the interests of keeping posts reasonably short I’ll probably cover this in a series of posts but my reasons for writing about my PhD are twofold: (1) to give me a chance to reflect on the whole process from inception to completion which will be useful for me as I’ll be having my PhD viva reasonably soon (i.e. a meeting where I will need to orally defend my work in front of two examiners); and (2) so readers will have a better understanding of my interests so they (you) will be better informed to make a decision on whether what I write is likely to appeal to your interests.

So, the last four years I’ve been working on a PhD which has recently been completed and given the snappy title of “Semantic representations of English verbs and their influence on psycholinguistic performance in healthy and language-impaired speakers“. So what does this actually mean and why did I decide to do this?

I’ll first start by explaining the why

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