AN INNOVATIVE medical app that enables stroke patients with brain damage to communicate their mood has been developed by researchers from the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. The new tool could enhance the care received by these patients who have difficulties communicating effectively through language.
Monitoring of mood during treatment and recovery for stroke is vitally important because many patients develop severe depression or anxiety caused by the life-changing disabilities that often result from the condition. However, aphasia, in which the resulting brain damage can prevent effective communication taking place, occurs in around one-third of stoke survivors. This was the inspiration for the creation of the Dynamic Visual Analogue Mood Scale (D-VAMS), an app that allows these patients to communicate how they are feeling without using language.
This web-based device allows the user to morph photographic images of male and female human faces into various expressions by moving a slider, with seven dimensions of mood included that are measured on a scale of 0–100%: Miserable – Satisfied; Sad – Happy; Distressed – Peaceful; Bored – Excited; Afraid – Calm; Angry – Peaceful; Sleepy – Alert.
Dr Paul Barrows, University of Nottingham, commented: “It is hoped that this will help healthcare professionals to assess mood in stroke survivors more easily and more accurately. It will also mean that more studies of rehabilitation after stroke will be able to include people with aphasia. As it is, many studies simply exclude this group because of the difficulties involved in assessing their mood.”
Reliable and Accurate Measurement
The app was tested on 46 stroke survivors, 24% of whom had aphasia. In addition to reporting their mood using the slider on a set of seven bipolar scales, they also filled out the existing Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The observational study found that the two sets of scores were highly correlated, and that the individual scales used in D-VAMS allowed the assessment of a wider range of emotions. This suggests that D-VAMS can be used by healthcare professionals to reliably and accurately measure depression in stroke patients with aphasia.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.