City University London researchers have developed a game-like virtual world for people with post-stroke speech impediments to practice their communication skills. Called EVA Park, the virtual world resembles Second Life, but is focused on getting the player to communicate with characters about mundane everyday things.

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To keep players engaged, the conversations and situations have quirky aspects that make them fun while really sticking to the kinds of basic conversations a typical person may find themselves. EVA Park has places like a bar, where you can practice ordering a warm pint of English beer, and a hair salon, where you can work on asking for your hair to be done just like how you like it.

The researchers conducted a study of EVA Park with stroke patients suffering from aphasia, demonstrating the software’s effectiveness in improving communications skills while keeping patients actually interested in using it on a regular basis.

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