Optimising rehabilitation outcomes for aphasia following stroke through new learning
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Kelly, H. (2007) Optimising rehabilitation outcomes for aphasia following stroke through new learning, Cerebrovascular Diseases, vol. 23, , pp. 128,
Published Abstract - Many people with aphasia retain residual language impairments to varying degrees of severity following rehabilitation. Currently there is no theory of rehabilitation that explains the therapeutic process involved in the restoration of a damaged language system. Therefore it is not possible to discern what approaches/tasks would be most successful at restoring particular language functions. Does rehabilitation facilitate the accessing of the damaged language system or could it involve new learning resulting in the creation of new language representations? The main objective of this study was to investigate whether adults with aphasia could learn new vocabulary. The methodology incorporated procedures based on evidence from the literature in order to facilitate and promote optimum learning. The novel stimuli (20 new words) were taught to 12 adults (<65 years) who presented with varying degrees of severity of aphasia. The training procedure incorporated learning theory and a cognitive neuropsychological model of language. The immediate and delayed recall of this vocabulary was investigated using a range of assessments to facilitate the capture of new learning which was measured not only in terms of the accurate production of the stimuli but also the recognition and knowledge of the word forms and meanings. Overall findings of this investigation with the presentation of select case studies demonstrate the ability of people to learn new language representations despite severe language impairment. The findings, which strongly suggest that language rehabilitation could incorporate the process of new learning, have significant clinical relevance in terms of developing a theory of rehabilitation and to the procedures employed in speech and language therapy.