Photo of Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken who is director of REKNEW Projects. WELCOME FROM OUR DIRECTOR

The REKNEW research group addresses the complex communication needs of adults with acquired disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases. We work on many different REKNEW projects, targeting different adult groups and communication supports. Our approach is based on a philosophy of Participatory Action Research: we believe that individuals with complex communication needs should be part of our research endeavors, from the initial questions posed in a study to the dissemination of research results.

We invite you to explore our website and examine our different clinical research projects. We would be happy to discuss our work with you, whether you are interested in participating in a study, supporting us, learning about our recent publications or knowledge translation activities, or just finding out more about communication supports for adults.
~Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken


New Paper by Members of REKNEW Projects on Primary Progressive Aphasia Published in Aphasiology

Download the article "Mobile technology to support lexical retrieval during activity retell in primary progressive aphasia"


Background: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies and tools developed for individuals with chronic aphasia have been found to facilitate generative language skills. There exists a need to identify effective AAC strategies and tools for individuals experiencing primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a neurodegenerative dementia, for which compensatory treatment paradigms are yet to be systematically evaluated.

Aims: To examine the treatment effects of a novel language compensation tool, CoChat, and to determine if lexical retrieval skills improve are maintained during activity retell with use of this AAC application.

Methods and procedures: Six individuals with PPA participated. The study was implemented using a single-subject alternating treatments experimental design to compare lexical retrieval during activity retell in three conditions: Absence of technology support, presence of photos only, and presence of CoChat app, with photo and labels. The number of target words produced by the participant during activity retell with a conversation partner was the primary dependent variable. There were two phases of this experiment: Three conditions presented in a fixed-order and three conditions presented in a counterbalanced order. For one participant, an additional implementation of CoChat was piloted at 6- and 9-month post-intervention to examine sustained effect of CoChat during activity retell.

Outcomes and results: In the fixed-order phase, results indicated a higher number of target words produced in the CoChat condition for all participants. In the counterbalanced phase, results indicated a higher number of target words in the CoChat condition for two-thirds of the participants. Maintenance probes showed same level of lexical retrieval at 6 and 9 months following intervention.

Conclusions: This single-case research design demonstrated that mobile technology compensatory strategies provide necessary support during natural conversations about personally relevant topics for people with PPA. CoChat, a newly developed mobile technology research app that uses social networks and an NLP engine to create a co-constructed external lexicon with visual scene display, significantly increased lexical retrieval during activity retell. Future research should further develop AAC strategies and tools that aid in maintenance of vocabulary access and communication participation for people with PPA over the course of disease progression.

Deadlines Announced for RESNA Student Design Competitions

Click on links below for full details and guidelines. Good luck on your submission!

Deadline: April 13, 2018--Links to guidelines are listed on page above.

The RESNA Student Design Competition (SDC) is an annual competition that showcases creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities function more independently. Student teams represent a wide variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering; computer information science; architecture; and physical and occupational therapy. Entries are judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities. SDC winners have frequently moved on to become leaders in the field of assistive technology.  Only undergraduate and masters level graduate students currently enrolled in a college or university are eligible to apply. 

2018 Student Research & Design Competition: Access and AAC

Deadline: April 13, 2018
Guidelines can be found here.
A Research and Design Award (up to a total of $3,000) is available to the first place student project. $1,500 of the award funds can be used by the first place student team to support approved expenses to further the project, including additional research and development activities and/or dissemination activities (e.g., travel to visit a research mentor, conference travel and registration, etc).  $1,500 of the award funds is also available to the first place student project to support attendance at  2018 RESNA conference. If the winner of the RERC on AAC award is a Bachelor or Masters level student during the 2017/18 academic year, they also be named as a finalist in the RESNA Student Design Competition and eligible to compete for the RESNA Student Design Competition Award.


To learn more about our funders, who we work with and our upcoming events, please click the blue links to below.

Who Funds Our Work

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research logoAdministration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities logo

 National Institutes of Health logo

Who We Work With

REKNEW Projects are conducted in collaboration with various community partners as well as the following organizations:

REKNEW projects have reached out to several populations, including adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), Locked-In Syndrome (LIS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). We have also looked at the outcomes of training caregivers in Alzheimer’s Care Units to use communication systems with their residents.


Upcoming Events

Brain-Computer Interface Society Annual Meeting
Asilomar Conference Grounds –  Pacific Grove, California, May 21-25, 2018
Hyatt Regency Crystal City – Arlington, Virginia, July 11-15, 2018