Communication Research

REKNEW projects

REKNEW projects research ways Augmentative and Alternative Communication or AAC can support children and adults with acquired or developmental disabilities as they experience complex communication impairments.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (RERC on AAC)

Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken and the REKNEW team partner with Penn State University, Madonna Rehabilitation Center and Invotek, Inc. to develop apps and research techniques to improve communication options for people with complex communication needs. OHSU has three projects:

  1. we have developed a way to supplement vocabulary as people who use tablets type out their messages, called Smart Predict;
  2. we are working on our brain-computer interface (BCI) project with people who are locked into their bodies and have no other way to communicate than through their brainwaves; and
  3. we have built a free website that presents summaries of research related to the cognitive demands of AAC devices. Visit the RERC on AAC website for more information.

Translational refinement of adaptive communication system for locked-in patients:

Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken and team partner with Northeastern University to develop a communication system, also known as a brain-computer interface for persons with minimal movement and speech. The system uses brain signals to select rapidly displayed letters for message construction in people who are locked-in.

Communication Bridge: a person-centered internet-based intervention for individuals with primary progressive aphasia

The REKNEW team partners with Northwestern University to research a unique telehealth platform that offers speech therapy to people with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) through the Internet. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of speech and language therapy on communication skills in individuals diagnosed with PPA. Primary Progressive Aphasia is a rare form of dementia initially affecting the language networks of the brain. Care-partners are an essential part of this study and all enrollees must have care-partners available to participate for all speech-language therapy sessions and evaluations. This study uses tele-practice, via Internet videoconferencing, to connect individuals with PPA to speech and language pathologists for treatment. We hope to identify the most effective speech and language therapy strategies for persons living with this neurodegenerative condition.

Classroom AAC: developing an augmentative and alternative communication intervention for preschoolers with severe disabilities

The goal of this four-year research program will be to develop an AAC intervention for preschool children ages three to six with complex communication needs which can be easily implemented by teachers and speech-language pathologists during typical classroom activities.

Delivering enhanced milieu teaching to children with down syndrome via telepractice

This project examines whether delivering enhanced milieu teaching through a hybrid in-person and telepractice model increases caregiver language strategy use and rate of child communication.

Delivering early language intervention to young children and their families in rural communities

This project examines whether delivering an early intervention through a hybrid in-person and telehealth model increases caregiver language strategy use and rate of child communication, for families and their children living in rural communities.