Blogging about research: Confidence of speech-language pathology students regarding communicating with people with aphasia

Admittedly, I was running short of ideas on what to review this month as I haven’t been reading much while I’ve been trying to make headway on my own projects. So I was grateful to come across Tricia McCabe’s (@tricmc) tweet linking to the following paper presenting results of a questionnaire of speech pathology students on their confidence in communicating with people with aphasia.  While the content of the paper may be fairly niche, I think it’s a topic that many clinicians will empathise with.

A review of:

Finch, E., Fleming, J., Brown, K., et al. (2013). The confidence of speech-language pathology students regarding communicating with people with aphasia. BMC Medical Education, 13:92.

Premise of the article

Communicating with people with aphasiaThe article begins by outlining the familiar sentiments that aphasia is a condition that has limited public awareness and that people with aphasia encounter participation restrictions as a result of difficulties in communicating with people who are generally unable to communicate effectively with people with aphasia. It There is then evidence cited that has suggested that practicing speech pathologists are not always able to effectively communicate with people with aphasia. The article then leads quite naturally to its main question of investigating how confident speech pathology students are in their ability to communicate effectively with people with aphasia. Read more of this post

Blogging about research: Functionally relevant items in the treatment of aphasia

Selecting the right words for therapyIt is possible to draw an analogy between interventions in speech therapy/pathology and interventions in pharmacology (i.e. drug-based interventions). Both interventions require a ‘substance’ and both interventions require a delivery method. In pharmacological interventions, the substance would naturally be the drug and the delivery method would be the syringe, canula, tablet etc, i.e. the method by which the drug is introduced to the body. As would be expected, in pharmacology, the effects of both the delivery mechanism and the substance need to be fully understood and researched before the intervention is rolled out for use with the general public. If you then extend this to the field of speech therapy/pathology and in particular interventions for people with aphasia that attempt to improve spoken word-retrieval abilities, you can similarly identify a substance and a delivery mechanism. However, in this area, research has had a strong focus on identifying the effectiveness of various delivery methods to the relative neglect of investigating the effects of the ‘substance’. In this analogy that I am making, the delivery mechanisms are the intervention tasks (e.g. phonological therapy, semantic therapy, semantic-phonological therapy, and the various ‘branded’ tasks that fall under these general banners, such as semantic feature analysis therapy and phonological components analysis therapy). The ‘substance’, in this analogy, represents the words/vocabulary that are used in order to exemplify the tasks, i.e. the words that the person with aphasia is practicing as part of therapy. Essentially, the lack of attention paid to the ‘substance’ in interventions for people with aphasia has left clinicians with little concrete guidance about how to go about selecting words to use within their interventions in order to increase the chances of positive outcomes. Read more of this post

Blogging about research: What makes a successful peer-led aphasia support group?

A brief review of:

Tregea, S., & Brown, K. (2013). What makes a successful peer-led aphasia support group? Aphasiology, 27(5), 581-598.


Peer-led aphasia groupFirstly, the reasons I opted to review this article as my inaugural Blog about research were principally: a) my primary interest in speech pathology is working with people with aphasia; b) I’ve had a reasonable amount of direct experience planning and delivering group therapy for adults with aphasia in clinician-delivered groups; and c) I’m currently delivering clinical education for undergraduate students taking placements within as a community rehabilitation service and there has been some discussions about extending the ‘group-type’ approach outside of the clinical situation. Read more of this post

My thoughts on: Reading TherAppy from Tactus Therapy

Key details (taken from

Reading TherAppy – Phrase and Sentence-Level Reading Comprehension

From Tactus Therapy Solutions (website includes a video demonstration)

Cost:£10.49 / $14.99 (at time of writing) at the iTunes App store

Goal areas

Targets reading comprehension, attention, problem solving

For who?

Aphasia, Alexia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Cognitive-Communication Impairment, Brain Injury, Early Language Learners, Language Learning Disability, Autism, English as a Second Language Learners



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Blast from the past – Mills (1904). Treatment of aphasia by training

"Whisky": Highly familiar and easily recogniseable

“In testing him for powers of word-seeing, letter-seeing and number-seeing, it was evident that he recognised some letters and some words much better than others. This was especially true with regard to words.He could always pick out words which had evidently been unusually familiar to him before his seizure; for example, the words whisky, brandy and beer in the hospital diet list were at once recognised, although most other words he could not tell, except in a few cases with difficulty”

A look at: Mills, C. K. (1904). Treatment of aphasia by training. Journal of the American Medical Association, 43, 1940-1949.

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Note/Promise to self

Reporting on aphasia/SLT stuffI’ll begin to use this blog to summarise some nice things I read related to aphasia and speech therapy.

Been inspired by excellent Research Digest blog by British Psychological Society. Not intending to be quite as productive and comprehensive as this but it will give me added motivation to write something when other ideas are thin on the ground.

I’ll keep up with other content as well but as I’m struggling to keep up with my plan of 1 blog post per week this will hopefully give me more inspiration.It’ll also encourage me to keep reading and appraising stuff rather than just re-tweeting links to articles and/or printing stuff out and adding them to my ever-growing pile of ‘things to read’.

Revisiting my PhD (part 1) – My chance to find the findings other people hadn’t found

When I started my PhD this is what I thought I'd feel like by the end of itIt’s been too long since I did a proper blog post for a few reasons, but probably mostly to do with procrastination. But here I am again and I’ve decided to give a brief introduction to my PhD  and current research interests, or as I like to say, what I have been doing with the last four years of my life. In the interests of keeping posts reasonably short I’ll probably cover this in a series of posts but my reasons for writing about my PhD are twofold: (1) to give me a chance to reflect on the whole process from inception to completion which will be useful for me as I’ll be having my PhD viva reasonably soon (i.e. a meeting where I will need to orally defend my work in front of two examiners); and (2) so readers will have a better understanding of my interests so they (you) will be better informed to make a decision on whether what I write is likely to appeal to your interests.

So, the last four years I’ve been working on a PhD which has recently been completed and given the snappy title of “Semantic representations of English verbs and their influence on psycholinguistic performance in healthy and language-impaired speakers“. So what does this actually mean and why did I decide to do this?

I’ll first start by explaining the why

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BAS Conference 2011, Day 3

Day 3 of the BAS conference showed no signs of letting up in terms of inspiring people and offering nuggets of wisdom and things to reflect on. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do justice to all the talks that I found exciting on that day so I’m just going to focus on three in particular that I found useful in providing food for thought. I should probably therefore apologise to Anne Whitworth who gave a keynote speech on measuring change in connected speech and in the process made an auditorium of SLTs feel a little less guilty for never quite getting around to transcribing and analysing all those speech samples that have been collected throughout the years. I’m hoping that I’ll be forgiven for skirting over this as Anne is also currently one of my PhD supervisors and she would appreciate that I am looking to branch out and reflect on clinical areas which are perhaps not my speciality … cough cough

Archeology of SLTPam Enderby (Uni of Sheffield) and Susan Edwards (Uni of Reading) gave back-to-back presentations on the “archeology of aphasia therapy” which gave both sobering and inspiring perspectives on the future directions of aphasia research and its link to therapy. Admittedly these talks covered a lot of interesting ground and were so engaging that my attention was mostly focused on listening and my note taking suffered, and due to my poor memory I’ve forgotten a fair bit of the detail. Read more of this post

BAS Conference 2011, Day 2

My main highlight of day 2 was probably the second keynote address by Faustina Hwang (Uni of Reading) on “Technology and aphasia” which proved to be very inspirational for what appeared the majority of the audience. When we struggle with technology (e.g. not being able to set up a computer or work apps, or even ‘basic’ functions on our phones), we generally have a tendency to blame ourselves for not being ‘intelligent’ enough to work it out. However, Faustina instead suggested it is OK for us to think that the technology has not been designed to effectively allow its intuitive use and it is not just down to our own deficiencies. She also pointed out that designers of technology cannot be expected to get it right if there is no collaboration and exchange of ideas from the actual users and vendors of technology – what is obvious to us, as SLTs may not be obvious to designers, so things like AAC devices will only be fit for purpose if we tell designers what the purpose is. Read more of this post

BAS Conference 2011, Day 1

While the first day’s keynote speakers offered interesting insights into neural reorganisation following phonological therapy (Alex Leff, UCL) and a retrospective and prospective review of therapy in aphasia (Anna Basso, Uni of Milan), i found myself more intrigued by the parallel presentation sessions looking at ‘conversation’ and ‘verbs’.

Elizabeth Armstrong (Edith Cowan Uni, AUS) presented a fascinating analysis of evaluative language by PWA (e.g. statements such as ‘I loved the movie’). This analysis showed that PWA are perfectly able to express their opinions and emotions, regardless of severity, through a range of types of evaluative language. Although, those with more severe Read more of this post