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Survivors & Caregivers

VAST™ Overview

Survivors & Caregivers

If you’re reading this, you, or someone close to you has probably had either a stroke or a brain injury. You have likely been told that you have APRAXIA, or a non-fluent, Broca’s aphasia. Perhaps:

  • Your stroke occurred fairly recently and you are still receiving regular speech therapy sessions.
  • Or, your insurance benefits have been consumed and you (and your speech therapist) are looking for ways to continue your therapy on your own.
  • Or, your stroke happened a long time ago and you are still struggling with communication and finding ways to help yourself continue to make improvements in your speaking.

In all of the above instances, we think we can help.

Practice, Practice, Practice...

Typical speech therapy for non-fluent aphasia and apraxia involves relearning the placement, movement, and feeling of the sounds so that words can be produced. This is a long and laborious process, but it is necessary to reestablish the neural connections that make it possible to translate thoughts into speech. There is simply no short cut to re-establishing vocabulary and how to actually say the words.

VAST Builds on Established Techniques

Perhaps you have heard of Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) which is another approach using rate and rhythm to help regain the ability to speak. Some articles describe this as learning to “sing” the words. It can be a helpful approach for some individuals. VAST uses some of the same principles.

You may also have heard of Script Training. This is exactly what the name would indicate. Written scripts are created for functional, social situations. The person with aphasia practices using the script until they feel comfortable using it in daily life situations. But when someone has non-fluent aphasia or apraxia, it is not just a matter of practicing and becoming familiar with the words and the sequence of sentences. There is the additional problem of mastering the mouth movements to actually say the words and the sentences. This can be very frustrating and can end up in failing to use scripts successfully.

The Basics of VAST

  • Close-up video of the mouth is recorded – usually by speech professionals who understand and most accurately represent clear lip and tongue movements and segments of speech. The natural rate and rhythm of video is important in stimulating the appropriate connections between the brain and the speech muscles.
  • Speech impaired individuals watch and practice with the pre-recorded videos. The simultaneous combination of visual, auditory and, in some cases, written cues, allows these individuals to readily produce speech.
  • The video can be played back through any medium, but when placed on a mobile device, individuals can use the video to communicate in live situations

We envision two broad applications of VAST, which we call the Functional Use and the Therapy Use.

Functional Use

When delivered on a mobile device, the Functional Use makes possible live oral communication where otherwise impossible. It allows for the speech impaired individual to communicate themselves, in whatever predictable situations are relevant in their lives. Individuals typically practice their functional video scripts until they are comfortable enough to use the script as a support for live communication – with their own voice!

Therapy Use

VAST may also be used for repetitive speech rehabilitation training, which we call the Therapy Use. Repetition and practice are essential to relearning speech motor skills. As described above, VAST builds upon established speech rehabilitation techniques. It provides a mechanism to practice independently and to make more efficient use of time with a speech professional.

SpeakinMotion Makes VAST Easy

VAST can be an easy-to-use, yet effective approach - even for those who have had no prior experience or training. This opens up many new possibilities for those individuals no longer working with a Speech-Language Pathologist. However, the requirements to implement VAST may be challenging – time consuming for professionals or simply inaccessible to most survivors and families.

SpeakinMotion provides individuals (and professionals) a way to leverage technology in managing the difficulties in learning the rapid sequence of mouth movements necessary to speak in complete sentences. SpeakinMotion will provide a technology solution and a web-based platform for making VAST easy and accessible to all those who may benefit.