Authors: Marshall J, Best W, Cocks N, Cruice M, Pring T, Bulcock G, Creek G, Eales N, Mummery AL, Matthews N, Caute A
Title: Gesture and Naming Therapy for People With Severe Aphasia: A Group Study
Source: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 2012 55(3): 726-738
Year: 2012
Research Design: Case Series

Purpose: In this study, the authors (a) investigated whether a group of people with severe aphasia could learn a vocabulary of pantomime gestures through therapy and (b) compared their learning of gestures with their learning of words. The authors also examined whether gesture therapy cued word production and whether naming therapy cued gestures. Method: Fourteen people with severe aphasia received 15 hr of gesture and naming treatments. Evaluations comprised repeated measures of gesture and word production, comparing treated and untreated items. Results: Baseline measures were stable but improved significantly following therapy. Across the group, improvements in naming were greater than improvements in gesture. This trend was evident in most individuals’ results, although 3 participants made better progress in gesture. Gains were item specific, and there was no evidence of cross-modality cueing. Items that received gesture therapy did not improve in naming, and items that received naming therapy did not improve in gesture. Conclusions: Results show that people with severe aphasia can respond to gesture and naming therapies. Given the unequal gains, naming may be a more productive therapy target than gesture for many (although not all) individuals with severe aphasia. The communicative benefits of therapy were not examined but are addressed in a follow-up article.

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