Can impairment-focused therapy change the everyday conversations of people with aphasia? A review of the literature and future directions

CARRAGHER, M., CONROY, P., SAGE, Karen and WILKINSON, R. (2012). Can impairment-focused therapy change the everyday conversations of people with aphasia? A review of the literature and future directions. Aphasiology, 26 (7), 895-916.

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Background: The ultimate goal in any programme of aphasia rehabilitation is that behaviours targeted in therapy will generalise to everyday use for people with aphasia (PWA). The pervasiveness of conversation in everyday life has undoubtedly contributed to the recent interest in aphasiology regarding how we facilitate, and capture evidence of, change in conversation following therapy. Given the rich nature of conversation data, various analytical approaches have been utilised within impairment-focused therapy studies; however, much of this work has been carried out in isolation from other methodologies such as conversation analysis (CA)—a field which has historically concerned itself with conversation data. The result is a growing literature base which is dispersed in nature. For clinicians who are faced with the daily challenge of therapeutic management for a diverse population of PWA the literature on generalising therapy gains to everyday conversation may be too unwieldy to be of benefit to current clinical practice. Aims: This paper aims to synthesise and critically review key papers from impairment-focused studies which have investigated the impact of therapy on the conversations of PWA. For the purposes of this review, conversation is defined as a dialogue between the person with aphasia and a conversation partner. Main Contribution: First, the motivation to investigate conversation within aphasia assessment is discussed, with consideration of how conversation differs from, but ultimately complements, other forms of language assessment. Following this, five impairment therapy studies will provide a platform for discussion of methodological issues and analytical approaches relating to conversation data. Finally, consideration is given to how researchers and clinicians may build on current literature to develop the use of conversation as an outcome measure in aphasia intervention. Where appropriate, insights are drawn from interaction-focused therapy studies regarding the collection and analysis of conversation data. Conclusions: There is emerging evidence that impairment-focused therapy can impact on the conversations of PWA. While these early findings are promising, investigations have been limited to naming therapies and the methods of data collection used have implications for ecological validity. Incorporating particular elements of interaction-focused approaches may help to inform data collection, investigations of therapy outcome, and issues of candidacy for specific treatments. Furthermore, combining therapeutic and analytical approaches is likely to be more closely akin to the clinical reality of aphasia intervention, where clinicians are likely to use all resources at their disposal in the rehabilitation of a speaker with aphasia.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: therapy, conversation, impairment, interaction, outcome
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 895-916
Depositing User: Karen Sage
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2016 10:31
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 18:16

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