Computerized sentence building as a treatment for Aphasia
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Powell, A.; Keese, D. 2021. Computerized sentence building as a treatment for Aphasia -- In Proceedings: 17th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University
INTRODUCTION: Acute cerebrovascular disease (stroke) is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and those who survive are often left with significant long-term disabilities. Aphasia, which frequently occurs secondary to stroke, results in loss of the ability to speak freely. One cause of difficulty producing conversational speech is an impairment in the ability to build sentences. Existing treatments have shown improvement in spoken language (e.g., Thompson et al., 1997; Doyle et al., 1987), but treatments may not reach full recovery potential. People with aphasia express eagerness to find new therapy approaches to improve communication abilities and to have home therapy programs in addition to in-person therapy. There continues to be a need for effective sentence production treatments that can be easily translated into a home program. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to conduct a pre-efficacy study to try the computerized sentence building task as a treatment for several people with aphasia, to measure whether dependent variables improve, and to ask people with aphasia what they think of the task. METHODS: Seven participants with aphasia were trained to do the computerized sentence building task called the word maze. This computerized task provides practice with word-by-word sentence building. Participants had sessions once or twice per week in forty-minute-long periods for a total of 6-7 sessions. Pre-treatment and post-treatment measures included the Assessment for Living with Aphasia (ALA) and the Western Aphasia Battery-Revised (WAB-R) Part 1. The ALA is a quality of life assessment that uses a pictographic approach and a visual 0 to 4-point scale which allows for participation across a full range of severity. A few example questions from the ALA include, "How would you rate your talking?" and "Are you making decisions about things that are important to you?" The WAB-R Part 1 assesses language skills most frequently affected by aphasia to provide differential diagnosis information as well as a baseline level of performance to measure change over time. A few example tasks from the WAB-R Part 1 include answering yes/no questions and following sequential commands. At the end of each treatment session, participants completed a subjective questionnaire about their experience. RESULTS: All participants showed improved task accuracy, faster reaction times and increased scores on the Assessment for Living with Aphasia. Two of the seven participants showed an 7- point increase in the WAB-R Part 1 aphasia quotient. This indicates a decrease in the severity of their aphasia, according to this specific standardized assessment. The subjective experience questionnaire results indicated that all seven participants like the treatment. CONCLUSION: This pre-efficacy study suggests that the computerized sentence building task may have therapeutic value for people with aphasia. All participants improved at the task and showed a concomitant increase in their scores on the ALA which suggests improved quality of life. The subjective experience questionnaire results showed that people with aphasia found the task fun, helpful, not difficult, and not stressful.
Presented to the 17th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held online, Wichita State University, April 2, 2021.
Research completed in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Health Professions