Speech Language Pathology
Background: About one-third of strokes result in aphasia, and about 2,000,000 people in the United States live with aphasia. Aphasia impacts expressive and receptive language resulting in reduced communication with family and friends. Communication partner training aims to enhance communication interactions between a person with aphasia (PWA) and their frequent communication partners (family, friends).
Purpose: The purpose of this research report was to determine the effects of communication partner training on overall communication between people with aphasia and their familiar communication partners.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search and critical appraisal were carried out separately by two authors. The authors searched for evidence in Journals of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) as well as electronic databases using key terms “aphasia”, “communication”, “communication partner training”, and “familiar partners”. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: (1) included participants with aphasia who were at least forty years of age, (3) included communication partners who were spouses, family, or caregivers, (4) were published in English between January 1, 2010, and August 1, 2020.
Results: Seven studies met the inclusion criteria and were critically appraised. Two studies were systematic reviews, two were single-subject designs, two were case series, and one was a cohort study. A total of 3235 individuals with aphasia and 713 communication partners were included in the studies, including the two systematic reviews. The results showed a significant increase of effective communication, this communication was verbal and non-verbal, it also included the training in receptive and expressive language, between the communication partner and the person with aphasia.
Conclusion: Communication partner training enhances communication access for individuals with aphasia when interacting with family and friends. When a speech pathologist is considering communication partner training they need to account for the clients’ external support, intervention intensity, familial dynamics, and severity of the communication disorder.