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The Crucial Role of Significant Others in Aphasia Rehab: Insights from an SLP

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

A couple using a tablet together, aphasia, caregiver, care partner, stroke
A couple using a tablet together

Do our loved ones help us rehab? Aphasia is a communication disorder that can significantly impact an individual's ability to understand, speak, read, and write. While it's widely acknowledged that including significant others in the rehab process is beneficial, it's not always clear how this recommendation is put into practice by speech therapists.

While I have my own anecdotal experiences, data is best. There’s a great study published in the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders titled “Speech–language therapists’ process of including significant others in aphasia rehabilitation”—research paper sited at the end of this post.

The study aimed to shed light on the process of collaborating with the significant others of individuals with aphasia during the rehab process. Eight experienced speech pathologists (SLPs), each with at least one year of experience working in rehabilitation centers, were interviewed. Here is what they found:

Patient-Centered Approach: SLPs felt that involving significant others was a bonus to their patient-centered approach. They recognized the importance of a holistic approach to rehabilitation, acknowledging the impact of family and friends on the patient's progress.

Insights: When significant others were available, SLPs engaged in information sharing. They provided valuable insights and guidance to help family members and friends better understand aphasia and support their loved ones.

Referral to Professionals: In some cases, SLPs referred significant others to social workers or psychologists when more specialized support was needed. This collaborative approach aimed to address the emotional and psychological aspects of coping with aphasia.

Support partners are important! Involving significant others in aphasia rehabilitation is not only beneficial but also essential for the comprehensive care of individuals with aphasia. While there are some challenges highlighted in this study, speech-language pathologists can better support both the patient and their significant others on the journey toward improved communication and quality of life.

Hallé MC, Le Dorze G, Mingant A. Speech-language therapists' process of including significant others in aphasia rehabilitation. Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2014;49(6):748-760. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12108.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified speech pathologist for a personalized evaluation and treatment plan.

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