PHILADELPHIA — Debi Green is trying to book a vacation, but she's having a hard time getting the words out. Even though it's been nearly nine years since she suffered a stroke, language sometimes fails her.
"I would like ... um ... um ...," she said, faltering.
Luckily, the computerized travel agent has all the time in the world. It's an avatar being tested at Temple University in Philadelphia, where researchers are working to develop a virtual speech therapist.
Cyber-clinicians can be a crucial tool in overcoming the language disorder known as aphasia, experts say. While the verbal impairment can be life-long, health insurers only pay for a limited amount of therapy. Yet patients like Green need to continuously practice their skills.