Sanum - The Healing Power of Singing

Incorporating technology into current therapeutic methods for stroke survivors with Aphasia.


The UK is undergoing a demographic shift that will have far-reaching consequences for society, the economy and public service provision. For the first time Britain’s over 65s outnumber people under the age of 16. By 2020, the Office for National Statistics predicts that people aged over 50 will make up almost one third (32%) of the workforce and nearly half (47%) the adult population.The implications for an ageing society affect all of us, across generations and will touch every part of our lives, presenting challenges for individuals, families, communities, employers, service providers and government. Responding to the needs of people in later life is one of society’s most crucial and growing issues

'A vastly improved life expectancy – one of the great triumphs of the previous century – looks set to be one of the great challenges of this one.'

– Design Council

In each year there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK, and currently there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. As around one-third of stroke survivors have Aphasia which affects the ability to speak and understand what others say. I chose to design for stroke survivors, especially for those who suffer from Aphasia. My aim was to make the repetitive speech therapy exercises more entertaining with the help of technology and also intent to improve the patients mental wellbeing

For primary research I chose to make surveys for the health care workers and for the patients. I contacted Stroke UK and Stroke Association to help me to recruit participants. In my surveys I wanted to find out the patients/health care experts connection and experience with different rehabilitation techniques they use.
Group Therapy

Every patient has different needs so at the end I came up with one group and one individual therapy idea.

group singing idea based on the melodic intonation therapy where patients practice sound patterns over and over or use natural melody and rhythm of common phrases. During the group singing therapy, participants sing slower songs together and on the wall they see the shape of the mouth which they have to use for different words. The display has round led lights connected to a open-source software and hardware library called AnyPixel.js. It helps to project different abstract forms and the mouth shapes to the wall to help the patients sing.

Individual Therapy

Making the right sounds and the right words are difficult for many many patients with Aphasia. With the individual therapy I wanted to imporve straw phonation exercises.

Straw phonation exercise helps improve airflow and resonance and encourage better vocal fold function to produce a stronger and more stable voice. During straw phonation there is less impact, collision, and stress on the vocal folds. The pressure sensor at then end of the straw sends information via bluetooth to the interactive wall, which converts the data into different colored forms on the interactive wall. The shape becomes circular when the patient performs the task well.

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