Man with VR glasses
Man with VR glasses

Dynamic Assessment of Everyday Communication using Virtual Reality (DCOM-VR)

Proof of concept for persons with aphasia
Duration
1 May 2023 until 1 April 2025
Project member(s)
Dr M.B. Ruiter (Marina) , Dr Willemijn Doedens (Radboud University) , Dr V. Piai (Vitória) , M.C. Otters (Mirjam) , Dr Lizet van Ewijk (HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht) , Hilde Bosschers, MA, MSc (Siza) , Drs Eric Jutten (The Simulation Crew) , Karlijn Spijkers, MA (Radboud University) , Pleun van der Werf, MA (Radboud University)
Project type
Research

You may recognize the following situation. You are on holiday in France but since high school your French has become a bit rusty. Suppose you are at a bakery and there are 15 people in line behind you. You feel the time pressure and as a result the words fall short: you cannot get the message across properly. When you sit back on the couch later, you know what words you should have used.

For people with aphasia this is a daily reality. They experience language impairments due to brain damage such as stroke. Daily communication is already difficult because of the language impairment, but also because of additional cognitive demands such as time pressure and the distractions such as noise. These communicative impairments have far-reaching, negative consequences on people’s ability to participate in society. Reliable assessment and treatment protocols help and empower people to communicate better and take part in society.

Assessment of everyday communication, however, remains a challenge. Mainstream pen-and-paper based instruments do not capture the complex cognitive demands that are present in the real world, which means they are not representative of day-to-day communication. There is, therefore, an urgent need for a reliable, ecologically valid tool to assess communicative ability.

The goal of this project is to develop a proof-of concept of such a tool, using virtual reality (VR). VR can simulate dynamic, complex environments in a highly controlled way that resemble the real world. It makes it possible to simulate realistic communicative interactions between a person and a computer-generated avatar, including both verbal and nonverbal behaviour. It also allows the therapist to manipulate various factors (i.e., background noise) that may increase communicative complexity and assess their impact.

Funding

The Dutch Research Council (NWO), Dutch National Research Agenda, Small projects for NWA routes 21/22, NeuroLabNL: the ultimate living lab for brain, cognition and behavioural Research.

Partners

The Simulation Crew, Siza, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Contact information