Lingraphica Co-founder and Chief Scientist, Dr. Richard Steele, summarizes the findings of a team of investigators from Ohio, Texas, and Alabama regarding discourse-based changes within the utterances produced by persons with aphasia who are engaging in constraint-induced aphasia therapy (CIAT).
The goal of the research was to establish change patterns during CIAT participation.
Earlier research had focused on outcome improvements within performance domains, such as naming or repetition, following completion of CIAT participation, and relied primarily on administration of standardized assessment instruments. In contrast, the current study focuses on verbal output during intervention participation and applies tools developed for discourse analysis to utterances produced during therapy.
Eight persons with aphasia were enrolled in a ten-day program of CIAT, in which participants produced and elaborated verbal responses within a regimen of intensively focused, speech-constrained daily practice. From each subject, 200 utterance samples were recorded and analyzed to flag areas of performance improvement. Six discourse-based items were selected for study: correct information units/words (CIU), counted words, T-units (= longer syntactic concatenations), CIUs per utterance, mean length of utterances (MLU), and mazes (utterance stretches that are convoluted & non-communicative). Statistical analysis revealed five areas in which desirable changes were observed beyond chance occurrence.
This work shows that during constraint-induced aphasia therapy practice, persons with aphasia move towards greater communicative efficiency. This research begins to characterize discourse improvements observed during CIAT therapy and lays a groundwork for studying relationships between therapeutic changes observable in the clinic and longer-term outcome improvements.
For further reading: J. Griffith, A. Dietz, A. Ball, J. Vannest, & J.P. Szaflarski, 2017. An examination of changes in spoken productions within constraint-induced aphasia therapy. Aphasiology. 31(11):1250–1265.